A bill to renew a part of the state’s cigarette tax won final legislative approval Thursday morning, setting up a confrontation with Gov. Bobby Jindal.
The measure, House Bill 591, won state Senate approval 298 after only a brief discussion.
Jindal has vowed to veto the measure because he considers it a tax hike.
The Legislature would have to muster a two-thirds majority to override any veto, which rarely happens in Louisiana.
The bill won two-thirds majorities in both the House and Senate.
However, whether those margins would stand up in any veto override attempt is unclear.
The legislation would prevent the state tax from being lowered on a pack of 20 cigarettes.
Four cents of the 36-cent state tax are set to expire on June 30, 2012.
The money raises about $12 million per year.
If renewed the revenue would be dedicated to the state’s health care expenses.
The money now goes to the state’s general revenue fund, where it can be used for a wide range of services.
“This is the right thing to do,” said Senate President Joel Chaisson II, D-Destrehan and sponsor of the bill.
A separate bid to raise the state cigarette tax by 70 cents was rejected earlier by a House committee.
Chaisson said the renewal is especially needed because the $12 million would grow to $48 million with federal aid.
He noted that Louisiana has the second lowest cigarette tax in the nation.
Any override attempt would require 26 votes in the 39-member Senate and 70 votes in the 105-member House.
The Senate vote means lawmakers may get a chance to try an override before adjournment on June 23.