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    Maryland lawmakers endorse $1 cigarette tax hike.

    BALTIMORE -- The Maryland Senate yesterday tentatively approved a proposal to raise the state tax on cigarettes to $1 a pack and devote most of the proceeds to public schools.

    With less than a week remaining in the legislative session, the Senate approved the plan, which would ultimately increase state spending on education, particularly for poor districts, by more than $1.3 billion a year, The Washington Post reported.

    Senate leaders said they expect today to fend off a filibuster threat from Republicans and conservative Democrats, who oppose raising the tobacco tax in an election year, and send the bill to the House of Delegates. House leaders were preparing a hostile reception.

    Yesterday, a House committee rushed to advance its more modest education package. Like the Senate bill, the House plan would raise the tax on cigarettes from 66 cents to $1 a pack, one of the highest rates in the nation.

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