Fourteen Republicans in the Iowa House have co-signed a letter with a small group of Democrats, urging House G-O-P leaders to allow a vote on a bill that would raise the state cigarette tax. John Lowe, a University of Iowa public health professor, released a copy of the letter to the news media this (Monday) morning.
“What we’ve got are a number of Republicans and Democrats (who) have decided to stand up and say ‘It’s important to us,'” Lowe says. “We call on them to help encourage their colleagues.” Lowe says surveys show both smokers and non-smokers support raising the cigarette tax. “It is an opportunity for Iowa and the legislators to represent their constituents for once and actually portray the ideals on which democracy was built on,” he says.
Representative Walt Tomenga, a Republican from Johnston, is one of the co-signers of that letter, but he believes it will have little impact. “Neither party wants a vote on this bill,” Tomenga says. “They don’t want to run with the tag of raising taxes.”
House Speaker Christopher Rants, a Republican from Sioux City, has said he will not allow a vote on the cigarette tax increase and Tomenga says most legislators are relieved Rants took that stand. “The speaker is getting all the flack, but there are a lot of people who are saying ‘Oh, thank goodness he’s there,'” Tomenga says. The other House Republicans who signed the letter are Representatives Baudler, Tjepkes, Jones, Kaufman, May, Eichhorn, Maddox, Upmeyer, Wilderdyke, Hutter, Rahons, Heaton, and Schueller.