Cigarette Tax Increase Gets Delayed

Mar 22, 2017

A $1.50 tax increase on cigarettes is getting moved to later in the legislative session at the State Capitol.

Representative Leslie Osborn says the tax increase will go before lawmakers on what's known as a J-CAB measure rather than a regular bill.

"We kind of got bogged down with a lot of other policy issues. We need to work both sides of the aisle, make sure we have the support. I expect we will because this one polls 76% across the state to pass with Ds and Rs."

Time is running out for lawmakers as regular policy bills have to be out of the chambers of origin by Thursday, which is why this is getting re-run as an appropriations measure.

Osborn, the Appropriations and Budget Chair, says the tax which is getting bipartisan support would raise more than $200 million for much needed health organizations in the state.

"Rural hospitals continue to be in trouble. If we don't do some of these measures we're going to see continued rural hospital closures, and, I think we will also see, if we don't get something like this done, lowered Medicaid provider rates, which means there would be less services provided."

The Mustang Republican also says federal health care changes might lower coverage for Oklahoma’s citizens.

She says the money would be allocated to the State Health Care Authority, the Departments of Human Services and Mental Health as well as the OU, OSU and community medical centers.