In a legislative gambit House Speaker Jim Tucker referred to as “brilliant,” state Rep. Harold Ritchie, D-Bogalusa, revived his 4-cent cigarette tax renewal Monday by tacking it onto a constitutional amendment championed by Gov. Bobby Jindal, who last week vetoed the renewal and survived a House override attempt by 12 votes.

Ritchie’s amendment to Senate Bill 53, which dedicates a share of tobacco settlement money to the TOPS scholarship program, passed the House by a 59-40 vote; it needed 53 to pass. Once the amendment was affixed to SB 53, the House voted overwhelmingly — 90-12 — to pass the bill. If SB 53 clears the Senate with Ritchie’s barnacle still attached, it will go to Gov. Bobby Jindal, who has signalled he will sign it; Jindal cannot veto the amendment to the bill.

The governor expressed chagrin with Ritchie’s end run, but his support for the TOPS program via SB 53, according to a statement released by his office, trumps his distaste for the tax renewal: “While we are disappointed that the House amended the TOPS bill to include the cigarette tax, we can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. TOPS is too important to our children and to the future of our state.”

Read more here.

News of Rep. Harold Ritchie's maneuver to revive the cigarette tax renewal
comes on the same day the U.S. Food and Drug Administration released
nine new graphic images that cigarette manufacturers will be required to
place on packs by mid-2013.

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