Posts tagged ‘washington state’

Proposed Washington Tobacco Tax Increases Cause Committees to Clash

PRWeb

The joint hearing was comprised of the House Health Care and Wellness Committee headed by Rep. Cody and the House Finance Committee chaired by Rep. Hunter. Hunter is seeking ways to offset an anticipated $2.6 billion state budget shortfall while Cody’s stated goal is to “force people to quit smoking.” “Those objectives are counter-productive… – neither happens,” said Joe Arundel, owner of Rain City Cigar Store in Seattle, and member of the Board of Directors of the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association (IPCPR).

Olympia, WA (PRWEB) January 17, 2010 — Two Washington state legislative committees were at odds with each other at Thursday’s joint hearing regarding HB2493 aimed at increasing taxes on tobacco products.

The joint hearing was comprised of the House Health Care and Wellness Committee headed by Rep. Eileen Cody of Seattle and the House Finance Committee chaired by Rep. Ross Hunter of Medina. Hunter is seeking ways to offset an anticipated $2.6 billion state budget shortfall while Cody’s stated goal is to “force people to quit smoking.”

Rain City Cigar Store

Rain City Cigar Store

“Those objectives are counter-productive when it comes to increasing taxes on tobacco products – neither happens,” said Joe Arundel, owner of Rain City Cigar Store in Seattle, who testified at yesterday’s meeting.

“In fact, increased tobacco taxes cause many smokers to find ways around the higher taxes by engaging in illegal activities such as buying bootlegged products or by making their tobacco purchases in neighboring states where taxes are lower, or by purchasing tobacco products by mail-order or over the Internet. The result is the same: no tax revenues for the state of Washington and a loss of jobs and businesses within the state,” Arundel said.

Arundel is a member of the Board of Directors of the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association. The IPCPR is a non-profit organization comprised of some 2,000 primarily small, mom-and-pop businesses that retail, manufacture or distribute premium cigars, pipes, tobacco and related accoutrements.

“People who have never enjoyed premium, hand-made cigars or pipes find it difficult to understand how different they are from cigarettes. Premium cigars and pipes make ordinary moments special and special moments extraordinary. They are indulged in relatively infrequently and are enjoyed for their social value as well as for their taste. That’s the way it’s been for centuries,” said Arundel.

Representing the Cigar Association of Washington was Dale Taylor who reminded the committees that tax reductions and reasonable tax caps on premium cigars and other tobacco products actually generate revenue increases for state treasuries whereas increased taxes cause those revenues to decline precipitously.

Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR, summarized what he called the principal reasons tobacco taxes should not be raised.

“They are regressive and disproportionately burdensome on lower- and middle-income people. They are an unreliable and unsustainable source of revenue. They are a discriminatory tax on a minority of the population. They hurt local businesses and the overall economy, and they encourage cross-border, black market, and Internet purchases,” McCalla said. “And everyone knows that human nature cannot be legislatively controlled,” he added.

Contact:
Tony Tortoric
678/493-0313
tony(at)tortoricipr(dot)com
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Well, Elections Are Over

The suckiest thing about national elections is that most of the drama is over by the time you reach the polls here. Of course, it’s the local stuff that was really important to me this year.

Not having voted for 20-some years, it was very different than what I remember, although I knew it coming in. Last time I voted, you still had those levers and cranks you had to pull. Paper boys were earning a little extra money by running back to the newspapers with the poll results.

This year I had the choice of a paper ballot or the electronic doohickey. My choice was clear once I asked the critical questions…”Which one is faster?” There was a line for the electronic doohickey, so I did a paper ballot. No chads here, just draw a line where you want your vote to go.

For me, the initiatives were important. Initiative 1000 provided the right to die with dignity (assisted suicide), and the other initiative was one eliminating the HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle) lanes, which provides a special lane for vehicles with multiple passengers.

The rest was a process of the lesser evils, or in some cases, “the devil you know or the devil you don’t.”

I wasn’t too concerned with the Presidential election. For all the bullshit for what feels like the longest election process in history, it came out the way it pretty much always comes out. When there’s an incumbent, we’re reluctant to change, so the incumbent wins again. When there’s not an incumbent, people vote for a change in parties. Ergo, Obama was pretty much a shoe-in. You can talk about all the issues you want, but that’s the way it goes.

Well, that was exciting. Wonder what it’ll be like when I vote again another 20 years from now. 🙂

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Snow

There was a minimal amount of snow today, so putting chains on all of our vehicle tires wasn’t really necessary, but if this new snow falling sticks around, it’ll be interesting. Snow in western Washington seems to mean car fires and rollovers on our highways. And I’ll probably end up rescuing professional mail carriers, drivers, with my Cadillac tomorrow. It’s pretty embarrassing when your commercial vehicle needs rescued by a guy in a red Caddy. But I come from snow country, so I’m more experienced than most of these folks.

The highway thing, well, these guys don’t give each other a lot of room between vehicles, and seem to keep their cars on cruise control. A recipe for disaster around here.

The new snow is beautiful. We were the first ones to trape around the block with our dogs tonight, leaving the first footprints on the snow. I’ve got a dog thawing with me in the garage as I smoke a pipe and write this.

Well, goodnight!

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Weather PTSD

I have PTSD, and basically, when disaster looms, you either over-prepare, or curl up in a ball, and wait for the kick in the gut.

Western Washington seems to have developed Weather PTSD. After the flooding, snow, and the gail-force winds, now that some gusting is happening, and some snow is due, everyone is freaked about over-preparing. Hardware stores have booming sales of generators and kerosene heaters. Everyone is selling batteries like they’re going out of style. The stores are selling tons of bottled water, bread, toilet paper.

I’m starting to kind of like living in a totally paranoid place. Makes me feel right at home. 🙂

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