California Senate Bill 768, which would more than double the tax on cigars and other tobacco products as a byproduct of a $2 increase on the tax on cigarettes, has stalled temporarily in committee.
On May 20, the state senate’s Appropriations Committee voted 6-0 to place the bill in its suspense file, effectively slowing down its progression to the senate floor for a vote. Per committee rules, there is directive to put bills in the suspense file “that would have a fiscal impact in any single fiscal year from the General Fund or from private fundsof $50,000 or more” or “bills that would have a fiscal impact in any single fiscal year from any account(s) or fund(s) of $150,000 or more.”
Based on a May 23 hearing analysis, the state Board of Equalization estimates that SB 768 would result in a net cigarette tax revenue gain (nearly all of which would be special funds) of $355 million in 2013-14, and $1.4 billion in 2014-15. In addition, 2014-15 sales and use tax revenues would increase by $51 million, resulting from the higher excise tax.”
The bill is authored by Sen. Kevin de León (D-22), who is also the chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee. One thought on the change in status is that Sen. de León is holding the bill in the suspense file until after June 15, which is the deadline for the state budget to be passed.
Several organizations have launched online petitions that California residents and other concerned individuals can use to contact their elected officials, including Californians Against Higher Taxes, the IPCPR and Cigar Rights of America.