The Iowa Senate has voted to double the state tax on a pack of cigarettes. Senator Maggie Tinsman, a Republican from Bettendorf, said the hike is the right thing to do.”I support the increase in the user fee because I do indeed want to strongly discourage smoking, especially in young people,” Tinsman said. She would have supported a buck-a-pack increase. “But politicians must compromise and so I have had to agree and I do agree with this 36-cent increase for a total of 72-cents,” Tinsman said. Senator Dave Mulder, a Republican from Sioux Center, wanted a bigger increase, too, but settled for the 36-cent hike. “I lost my dad. I lost my best friend — and I can go down the list — because of smoking. I hate it. As a coach, I hated it and I will continue to,” Mulder said. Senator Brad Zahn, a Republican from Urbandale, opposed the tax hike because he said it had nothing to do with health. “I think the message from some of the people (in the Senate) is ‘If you don’t smoke, start, because we want your money to spend,'” Zahn said. Senator David Miller, a Republican from Batavia, is a smoker and he opposed the move, too. “Instead of…reforming taxes this year which we’ve had an opportunity to do, we take the politically easy way out and target a minority group because it’s political easy and politically correct,” Miller said. Senator Mark Zieman, a Republican from Postville, wasn’t wild about the tax hike, either. “When they talk about making legislation is like making sausage, I think we have a classic example of it right here,” Zieman said. The bill passed the Senate on a 38-to-12 vote. Its next stop is the Iowa House where Republican leaders who control the debate agenda have repeatedly said they would not allow the House to vote on a cigarette tax increase.
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