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The Dancing Legislation Process

     In the early 80’s, some one-hit wonder band released “The Politics of Dancing”. I’m guessing that you really don’t care, so I’m not attaching their amazing one hit from YouTube.   As the State and Federal legislalors are “hunkering down” by voting on and compromising  bills, it is a reminder of how the reverse of that song is constantly in play.

     In Virginia, Tobacco legislation always brings out some amazing stories and quotes. On one hand, no one fights the harms and addictions of Tobacco. In the alternative, it seems to always come down to the money. A recent “eyebrow raiser” fits that description.

     Virginia’s Pilot Online reports that three bills that had been introduced, that would have raised taxes on cigarettes, were defeated by not making it out of committee. They had all been assigned to the House Finance Committee. That means that Virginia currently ranks #49 in its tax on cigarettes, despite the possible outcome of raising much needed revenue for Virginia.

     HB 1815 would have raised the per-pack rate to $1.45 per pack. That is currently the national tax average. HB 2118 would have allowed all Virginia Counties to determine whether to impose a tax increase. Currently, Fairfax and Arlington are the only counties with such authority.

     The specifics of the first bill would have directed most of the tax increase directly to Medicaid, to help fund the federal and state health insurance of low income people. Right now, Medicaid funding represents 20% of Virginia’s general-fund budget 

     Why was there no outcry for this new revenue? Well, as Del. Bobby Orrock (R-Caroline County) told his co-committee members during the bill discussion, “You don’t want to restrict the chicken so much to the point that people quit smoking”. He pointed out that the state should not tax cigarettes to the point that people quit smoking.

     Some blogs just simply need no real comment.  Delegate Orrock is a teacher at Spotsyvania High School and has served as an EMT with LadySmith Volunteer Rescue Squad.


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