Does Your Senator Support a 400% Tax Increase?

Missouri Senate considering giving big tobacco a huge gift – raising their competitors’ prices!

“You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension – a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You’re moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You’ve just crossed over into the Twilight Zone!”

Depending on your age or how much ME TV you watch you probably recognize the forgoing as the opening monologue to the Twilight Zone. It was/is a great show and I’m sure all of us who have watched have memories of many of the episodes.

Unfortunately, “a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You’re moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas” isn’t limited to television. The Missouri legislature engages in such things from time to time.

Senate Bill (SB) 1096 is just one of those times!

SB1096 was a “deal” cut between Attorney General (AG) Chris Koster (democrat candidate for Governor) and big tobacco. Bottom line, SB1096 will increase taxes on small tobacco companies by nearly 400%! Some Senators claim this is not a “tax increase”.

It’s pretty clear – that a government mandated fee on anything is a TAX!

CLICK HERE to let your legislators know that a government mandated 400% tax increase on ANY product is WRONG!

It’s a long and complicated story but here’s the CliffsNotes version:

Back in the late 1990’s then AG Jay Nixon signed an agreement with big tobacco (Missouri was the 47th state to sign it) in exchange for lots of dollars and no tobacco advertising, the state of Missouri agreed not to sue big tobacco over tobacco related illnesses.

The states, including AG Nixon for Missouri, were to diligently enforce making non-signatories to the settlement – that would be small tobacco companies that were generally regional in nature at the time – pay into an escrow fund. Seems easy enough but a three judge panel recently ruled that in 2003, AG Nixon FAILED to diligently enforce the settlement terms.

CLICK HERE to let your legislators know that a government mandated 400% tax increase on ANY product is WRONG!

It appears likely that the same “judgement” will be rendered for 2004-2009 or so. Although Pennsylvania also received this ruling, appealed it and was successful in doing so, AG Koster has chosen a different course – one that increases taxes!

As a consequence of AG Nixon failing to diligently enforce the terms of the agreement, big tobacco is allowed to withhold payments from the state. We are talking several hundreds of millions of dollars.  But wait…big tobacco has a deal for Missouri!

All Missouri has to do is to change the statute regarding the way small tobacco companies make payments into the tobacco settlement escrow account and big tobacco will let Missouri “keep” a paltry sum of money that would otherwise be withheld.  Bear in mind this “deal” has nothing to do with the reason Missouri lost the judgement in the first place. But it is a really good deal…for big tobacco!

Missouri will still lose out on hundreds of millions of dollars from the settlement because of Nixon’s failure to diligently enforce saving big tobacco all that money. The legislature in 2010 addressed the issue of due diligence and fixed the problem something the AG Nixon or Koster seemed unable to do.

Even worse, small tobacco companies will be forced to raise their taxes by nearly 400%! Guess who will get to pay that 400% increase? Consumers! Guess who benefits the most? BIG TOBACCO!

CLICK HERE to let your legislators know that a government mandated 400% tax increase on ANY product is WRONG!

Now, you may be like some people who do not smoke, do not like smoke and who think that smoking should be illegal anyway.  And there’s nothing wrong with you holding that opinion. However, it is entirely wrong if you think that’s a good enough reason to raise the tax 400%!

Tobacco is harmful. It’s widely known that tobacco does cause health problems. But we are not talking about reducing those risks by imposing this 400% tax increase. We are talking about some Missouri Senators who are doing big tobacco’s bidding and increasing the cost of their competitors’ products!

This is wrong whether it’s tobacco or any other consumer goods!

CLICK HERE to let your legislators know that a government mandated 400% tax increase on ANY product is WRONG!

This proposed settlement is one of the more egregious and obvious examples of crony capitalism you will ever see! It’s no secret AG Koster is a supporter of the Obamacare expansion of Medicaid. These funds could be a source of that expansion which is opposed by most Missourians!

The Missouri Senate will soon take up SB 1096. There’s a deadline for agreeing to the settlement terms of April 15th. Appropriate date given the tax increase involved in the proposed settlement!

Your action NOW can make a difference. Let your legislators know that you oppose passing this piece of crony capitalism.

CLICK HERE to let your legislators know that a government mandated 400% tax increase on ANY product is WRONG!

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