Update on cigarette tax increase, state budget

Posted on: 5/17/17

OHA and partners participate in May 15 press conference on cigarette tax increase.
Many of you have likely been following the twists and turns regarding the $1.50 cigarette tax increase for health care in the state Legislature. Late last night, the House failed to pass by a supermajority a revenue raising measure, HB 2414, which included the cigarette tax increase. We will continue to keep you updated as more events unfold this week. Revenue raising measures must be passed five business days before the end of session.

Earlier in the week, we learned that HB 2372, solely raising the cigarette tax by $1.50 per pack, would be heard in the House on Monday, May 15. OHA sent an Advocacy Alert to members Monday morning asking for quick phone calls to the House. Many of you responded and we appreciate that. Unfortunately, because many in the House are still holding the cigarette tax increase hostage until they get other revenue raising measures they want, that bill did not pass with a supermajority. In the end, there were 63 yes votes and 34 no votes. To view the vote count, click here. We meanwhile heard that a bill would be heard in House JCAB that afternoon for only a 67 cent per pack increase, which is unacceptable and which we will not support. This new proposal is being pushed by Big Tobacco. An increase of 67 cents will not curb smoking and Big Tobacco will allow discounts and distribute coupons to make up the difference. This bill did pass House JCAB.

OHA, along with our partners representing nursing homes, DHS, mental health, physicians and others, held an emergency press conference at 3:30 p.m. Monday to express our disappointment in the House vote and to continue to urge passage of $1.50 per pack increase. You can view some of the coverage at here and here.

Meanwhile, in the Senate on Monday, leadership put HB 2360 up for a vote. HB 2360 is a package of revenue raising measures that includes a $1.50 per pack cigarette tax increase. The bill did pass with a supermajority with 36 yes votes and 9 no votes. To view that vote count, click here. However, this bill was voted on prior to the House and Senate Republican leadership announcing on Tuesday that another revenue raising agreement had been reached. As we stated before, that measure failed in the House last night as Democrats continue to hold the health of Oklahomans hostage until they get other revenue raising measures.

There is still time to pass a $1.50 per pack increase in the cigarette tax to fund health care and we will continue the fight. Please continue to ask your employees to call their legislators.

OHA Partners with Qualivis 

Qualivis was developed as a collaborative effort among multiple state hospital associations to meet the temporary staffing needs of member hospitals and health systems.

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