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BATON ROUGE, La. -- Keeping his vow to stand against any tax increase, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal vetoed the proposed renewal of a portion of the state's cigarette tax. The measure would have permanently extended a temporary 4-cent per pack levy on cigarettes. The state legislature can move as early as today to attempt to override Jindal's move.
According to a report in the The Times-Picayune, the governor's veto of House Bill 591 was expected. "I have made a commitment to the taxpayers to oppose all attempts to raise taxes," Jindal wrote in his veto message. The bill now goes back to the state House of Representatives.
However, those who support the bill, which was introduced by Rep. Harold Ritchie (D-Franklinton), argue that the move is not a tax increase because it keeps the levy at the current 36 cents per pack.
The temporary 4-cent-per-pack levy is set to expire July 1, 2012. The temporary tax has raised approximately $12 million a year for the state.
Both the state Senate and House of Representatives approved the measure by a two-thirds margin earlier this month. But, as the newspaper reports, the governor and his supporters have been trying to get some lawmakers to change their votes. So far, at least one legislator has switched sides -- Rep. Steve Carter (R-Baton Rouge).
In addition, advocacy groups including the American Cancer Society, were slated to hold a rally in support of a permanent levy this morning outside the Governor's Mansion.