The tobacco tax got a do-pass in the Senate committee today -- Steve Faris, John Paul Capps, Paul Miller, Bobby Glover and Larry Teague were the yes votes -- Teague was the swing vote based on pre-meeting comments. Nays were Sharon Trusty and Terry Smith. Denny Altes, an opponent, wasn't present for the vote.
The bill got 40 minutes of debate. Smith offered an amendment. It was a tactical maneuver aimed at killing the bill. If the bill were to be approved with the amendment in the Senate, it would have to go back to the House for another nail-biting run at obtaining 75 votes. Glover led successful opposition to the amendment.
WORTH READING: Ernie Dumas in the Arkansas Leader on the dead-ender shills for the tobacco industry who are fighting the health program to the last vote.
PS: If the bill comes up for a vote Thursday in the Senate, I think that means sponsors believe they have the votes. Brummett Blog portrays favorable outlook.
IN OTHER CAPITOL NEWS: Speaker Wills hints at stronger ethics language to come in lottery bill (let's hope so. How about 1) No gifts to commissioners, employees, families. 2) Two-year hiatus on moving from commission or lottery agency to business with lottery ties. 3) Explicit FOI language opening all lottery records.)
Also, Joint Budget sets framework for annual sessions.