HB-2646 Combines Smoking Ban Exemptions with Fireworks and Tobacco Tax

casinos_smokingThe Senate Judiciary Committee continued the assault on clean indoor air regulations and added a $1 cigarette tax (50 cents per year over two years) to SB 2646.

Through this amendment committee members turned a simple bill relating to the sale of fireworks into a vehicle that will allow for smoking at the state tracks and veteran establishments and will increase the tax on cigarettes by $50 cents per year for two years.

Portions of the proceeds of fees to sell fireworks and the tobacco tax would benefit the veterans home in FY2016 and a substance abuse treatment center in FY2017.

A proposed amendment allowing for an clean indoor air exemption for organizations with video lotteries failed.

While the exact details of the strike and insert amendment are not available at this time, previous versions of similar bills have provided a flat-out exemption from clean indoor air regulations for organizations that are exempt from federal income tax under 501 (c) 19 of the Internal Revenue Code. These include a post or organization of past or present members of the United States Armed Forces, an auxiliary unit of such post or organization or a trust or foundation for such post or organization.

Under earlier versions of the legislation, track facilities have been allowed to apply for an exemption through their county commission provided they can meet certain requirements.

While this bill will potentially generate a potential of up to $130 million per year in new revenue it does not have a second reference to the Committee on Finance.

Thew bill now moves to the full Senate where passage is expected no later than tomorrow. The bill would then move, as amended, to the House of Delegates.

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