04.22.2011 - Legislative Updates By State
 
New York

There is still hope for a tax cap in New York ! There is standing legislation that would accomplish the goal. In the form of AB 1093 and Senate Bill 3410, this legislation is critical to for both the consumer and retail tobacconist community in the State of New York .

Please contact the Governor's Office, and your member of the New York Assembly and Senate with you support for the $1 tax cap in New York !

New York House of Representatives
New York Senate


California

H.B. 575, as a sweeping “close all exemptions” smoking ban, has been referred to the California Senate Appropriations Committee, which we hope will recognize the adverse economic impact this legislation will have for small businesses across California .

The next hearing on this bill is Monday, May 2. We will the specific time and location when available from the committee.

The CRA petition is now being switched to the membership of the California Senate Appropriations Committee, so you can “hit it” again. Help us send a message that this expanded smoking ban is bad for business, and is a direct attack on property rights for cigar enthusiasts in California .

ACTION STEPS:

Step 1. Please contact your member of the California Assembly and Senate (California Residents Only) and tell them to SAY NO to Senate Bill 575.

Step 2.
Please sign the CRA Petition (All CRA Members).


Nebraska

LB 436, as introduced by Senator Mike Gloor, would increase the excise tax on tobacco products other than snuff by 45% of (1) the purchase price of such tobacco products paid by the first owner; or (2) the price at which a first owner who made, manufactured or fabricated the tobacco product sells the items to others (from 20% to 65% of the above price). Would make detailed allocations of cigarette excise tax revenue, including: (1) $1.46 from each pack to the General Fund beginning on October 1, 2011; and (2) 37 and one-half cents per pack, but not less than $30,800,000 each fiscal year, to the newly-created "Health Care and Human Services Provider Rate Stabilization Fund. Would be effective upon approval.

Help oppose this tax increase in Nebraska !

Nebraska Senate


Alabama

With the House version of a statewide smoking ban meeting with resistance in the Alabama House Health Committee, the usual sponsor of Senator Vivian Figures, now has fourteen co-patrons who have come together for a Senate version of a statewide smoking ban. In the form of Senate Bill 372, such legislation has traditionally passed the Senate, and been defeated in the House. Please contact your member of the Alabama Senate, and voice your opposition to SB 372!

House of Representatives
Alabama Senate


Louisiana

Representative Harold Richie, D-Bogalusa, has introduced a slate of tobacco tax increases, including a 10% increase in the tax on cigars. In the form of House Bill 63, Representative Richie is joined by ten members of the House and two members of the Senate. In this economic time, no tax increase is acceptable.

CRA will join the Louisiana Independent Tobacconist's Association, International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association and other industry allies in working for defeat of this legislation.

We fully anticipate a statewide smoking ban bill to be filed in Louisiana , as well. Call your member of the Louisiana legislature – Say NO CIGAR TAXES – NO STATEWIDE SMOKING BAN!

Call the Louisiana House Ways & Means Committee to Voice your Opposition to ANY NEW CIGAR TAXES.

Louisiana House of Representatives
Louisiana Senate


South Carolina

While local governments keep tinkering with smoking bans in South Carolina , there has been an appreciation for freedom at the statewide level. We all want it to stay that way. However, House members Todd Rutherford, Lonnie Hosey and Joe McEachern want to take that away. They have each filed identical bills in the form of HB 3033, 3022, and 3015. The bills are in the House Judiciary Committee, and we hope they will be defeated there. Contact your member of the South Carolina legislature, and tell them "No Statewide Smoking Ban in SC!"

South Carolina House of Representatives
South Carolina Senate


Kentucky

Kentucky State Representative Susan Westrom , D-Lexington has filed HB 193, along with eight other patrons that calls for a statewide smoking ban in Kentucky , with no exemptions of any type. Whereas these matters have a way of taking on a life of their own, and all should be taken seriously, we believe that our Kentucky membership should contact their Representative and Senator, and tell them to defeat HB 193. Here's how to contact them - http://www.lrc.ky.gov/Legislators.htm

Additionally, eleven members of the Kentucky House of Representatives have sponsored HB 318 . The bill aims to increase the tax rate on OTP (cigars) from 15 percent to 27.5 percent, an overall increase of 83.3 percent!

The bill is in the 2011 Interim Joint Committee on Appropriations and Revenue .

Our growing Kentucky membership needs to contact its member of the Kentucky House and Senate. Here's the listing to find your member:

Kentucky House of Representatives
Kentucky Senate


Texas

The proposed statewide smoking ban in Texas is still alive in the form of House Bill 670 and Senate Bill 355. Please contact your member of the Texas legislature, and voice your opposition to any statewide smoking ban in Texas !

Texas House of Representatives
Texas Senate


Arkansas

You have to appreciate any legislation that has the language in it that says, “Encouraging in-state purchase of certain tobacco products.” That's HB 1956 that has now passed the Arkansas House of Representatives, and has been assigned to the Arkansas Senate Committee on Revenue and Taxation. In the wake of a horrid tax increase a couple of years ago, this legislation will bring relief to your Arkansas community tobacconist, and for the cigar enthusiasts of Arkansas . CRA commends Representative David Sanders, R-Little Rock, and Representative Andrea Lea, R-Russellville, for serving as sponsors for this legislation. If you're in Arkansas , send a message of support for HB 1956 to the Committee, and your member of the Arkansas Senate.

Senate Committee on Revenue and Taxation
Arkansas Senate


Florida

We previously alerted our vast Florida membership to the legislation introduced by Naples Representative Kathleen Passidomo (HB 211). Now, new Florida state Senator Alan Hayes, R-Umatilla, has introduced a companion bill in the form of SB 1070. This would allow local governments to supercede state law with regard to banning outdoor smoking. This type of back door legislating of smoking regulations needs to stop. Please sign the current CRA online petition , and let your member of the Florida legislature know, KEEP FLORIDA LOCAL GOVERNMENTS OUT OF THE SMOKING BAN BUSINESS.

Florida House of Representatives
Florida Senate


Oklahoma

A different type of threat looms for cigar enthusiasts in Oklahoma. House Speaker Kris Steele , R-Shawnee is sponsoring legislation, supported by the Tobacco Free Coalition and the Oklahoma Municipal League, which would allow for local control over tobacco policy and restrictions. This would hence allow localities across Oklahoma to adopt more stringent controls than exist at the state level. It must be defeated.

Send a message to your member:

Oklahoma House of Representatives
Oklahoma State Legislature


Illinois

It's not perfect, but House Bill 1965 was passed by the Illinois General Assembly, on a vote of 62-52, and is now off to the Senate. The bill would allow for smoking again in Illinois casinos, with the caveat that it would only be in effect if adjoining states also did not ban smoking.

It will be carried by Senator Martin Sandoval and Senate Majority Leader James Clayborne, Jr. signed on as a patron of the legislation.

House Bill 1310 sponsored by Representative Anthony DeLuca, D-Cook County , and Representative Randy Ramey, R-DuPage County , remains alive, and deserves support.

This legislation would allow for the issuing of a ‘smoking license' if certain criteria are met, such as: employee acknowledgment, establishment already holds a valid liquor license, and notable public signage. We commend Representatives DeLuca and Ramey for their leadership on this issue.

Illinois House of Representatives
Illinois Senate


Hawaii

H.B. 273, as introduced by Representative Ryan Yamane, would modify the excise tax on large cigars from 50% of the wholesale price to a minimum tax rate equal to the amount of the total tax on a pack of twenty cigarettes (currently $3.00 per pack; scheduled for $3.20 per pack on July 1, 2011) per package of five cigars, with a proportionate tax for any package or quantity of cigars consisting of fewer or more than five cigars; provided that no cigar with a wholesale price of less than $1.00 per cigar shall be sold in packages of fewer than five.

Would impose an excise tax on any tobacco product other than cigarettes or cigars that is offered in discrete single-use lozenges, pouches, pills, capsules or other single-dose or single-use units, or in packages of single-use units, of a minimum tax equal to the amount of the total tax per-cigarette per each single-use unit; provided that all tobacco products subject to this section would be sold in packages containing at least 20 individual single-use units.

Help oppose H.B. 273!

Hawaii House of Representatives
Hawaii Senate


Washington (state)

The State of Washington Still Needs Our Help!

Positive Legislation has been Introduced to Restore some Cigar Freedom. The motto for the State of Washington is a Chinook Indian word Alki, which means "Hope for the Future."

Based upon the introduction of House Bill 1683 by nine members of the House of Representatives, and Senate Bill 5542 by seven members of the Washington State Senate, there could indeed, be "hope for the future" - at least in terms of enjoying a cigar.

CRA joins the Cigar Association of Washington and IPCPR in supporting this legislation. We also believe it could be a model for other states that have stringent anti-smoking laws.

The legislation calls for upgraded and distinct ventilation, a fee structure that would prevent wide spread awarding of a limited number of licenses, is for cigars only, employee waiver language, signage requirements, and an age 18 restriction. In other words, it's a well thought out piece of legislation. So naturally, the state and local Health Departments are fighting it. We need to do our part.

The Senate Committee on Labor, Commerce & Consumer Protection referred the bill to the Senate Ways & Means Committee, and the House Committee on Business & Financial Services recently advanced the bill (on a 10-3 vote) also referring the legislation to the House Committee on Ways & Means.

Voice your support to these respective committees for HB 1683 and SB 5542!

Washington House of Representatives
Washington Senate


Maine

Representative Anna Blodgett, D-Augusta wants to ban smoking in one of the last refuges for freedom in Maine . Her legislation would ban smoking in private clubs. That's right, “private” clubs.

Also in Maine , legislation has been filed by Representative Les Fossel , R-Alna to raise the legal age to “possess” tobacco, from 18 to 21.


Minnesota

Progress is still alive in Minnesota where a great coalition of Representatives and Senators has come together for new exemptions to the state smoking ban law, through House legislation 0188 and Senate bill 0168. Representatives Tom Hackbarth, Larry Howes, Tom Rukavina, Bruce Anderson, and Mark Buesgens, have joined forces with Senators Michael Jungbauer, Sean Nienow, Chris Gerlach, Linda Scheid, and Ray Vandeveer to sponsor this legislation. Minnesota has a strong base of CRA members, and the legislature needs to hear from you. Contact your member of the House and Senate TODAY! Here's how to find them:

Minnesota House of Representatives
Minnesota Senate


Connecticut

Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy has proposed over $1.5 billion in new taxes for the citizens and businesses of Connecticut .

Nothing is left untouched. He wants to tax yoga sessions, haircuts, pet grooming, car washes, much less raise the sales tax. Oh, and for good measure, he throws in new taxes on plastic surgery and boating support services (obviously an important industry to the state); toss in increased taxes on beer, gas, hotel rooms, rental cars, as well as a new slate of "luxury taxes." And then, there is tobacco.

He wants to raise the tax on cigars from 27.5% to 50% of the wholesale price.

This bill is being heard in the joint Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee .

Send them a message.

1) They will send  Connecticut tax revenue to lower cost alternatives, such as surrounding states and the Internet.

2) They will irreparably harm  Connecticut small businesses, with lost jobs, and closed shops.

3) This type of regressive taxation results in the same budget hole they began with, and an expanded black market for illegal products.

This, indeed, is one of the worst pieces of tax legislation in the nation.

Cigar Rights of America stands with such groups as the 10,000 member Connecticut Business and Industry Association , Connecticut Package Stores Association , the Distilled Spirits Council , and the Connecticut Retail Merchant's Association in opposition to this package from Governor Malloy.

More so, however, we stand with the Great American Cigar Shops™ of Connecticut .

CRA's growing  Connecticut membership needs to voice its opposition to this regressive piece of legislation. 

A Wall Street Journal editorial has noted the “point of no return,” for such tax increases. The message: In fact the state will not collect as much revenue, sales will be driven to lower cost border-states and sources, the legislature will fuel the black market, and they will have the same budget hole with which they began. Call them TODAY!

FIND YOUR MEMBER OF THE CONNECTICUT LEGISLATURE

Read more about the comprehensive nature of this tax package, and how legislators and concerned groups view this package here.

Read the Governor's Complete Tax Increase Package here.

Additionally, Representative Joe Aresimowicz , D-Berlin has introduced H.B. 5286 in the Connecticut legislature that would also ban smoking in private clubs. He said “to insure the public is protected.”


CRA Needs Your Help!

In order to be successful in our fight to enjoy cigars without the threat of smoking bans and high taxation, CRA needs your help. Please consider partnering with CRA through two important methods:

Membership
There is strength in numbers! The more members CRA has, the greater voice we have at all levels of legislature. Please help CRA by asking your fellow cigar enthusiasts to join CRA today! Membership starts as low as $35/year.

Donate
Our fight around the country is very expensive. We would like to ask all CRA members and cigar enthusiasts to consider making a donation to CRA in any amount you choose.