Lawmakers brace for veto

Published 6:00 am Thursday, January 12, 2006

“A pretty impressive vote” is how one local legislator describedWednesday’s 90-30 House passage of a bill to hike cigarette taxeswhile phasing out taxes on groceries.

District 92 Rep. Dr. Jim Barnett said it is now up to Gov. HaleyBarbour to decide whether the bill will become law. Barbour hasopposed the bill, which would increase Mississippi’s cigarette taxthis year and next, and would phase out the 7 percent grocery taxby 2014.

“He might veto it, but it looks like we have the votes tooverride it,” Barnett said.

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District 53 Rep. Bobby Moak agreed.

Moak said he was confident the House could override a Barbourveto, which requires a two-thirds vote, but added that the billwould first be sent to the Senate as the originating legislativebody.

“Everything would ride on the Senate,” he said.

Despite lengthy discussion on the House floor, the Senate billwas approved without additional amendments. Both Barnett and Moakvoted in favor of the bill.

“It was pretty well brought out on the floor that an amendmentwould likely kill the bill,” Moak said.

The lawmaker said the vote in both chambers is encouraging as heseeks support for one of his main goals in supporting thelegislation.

“I hope it opens the door to looking at the entire tax code,”Moak said. “It’s not so much a shift on taxes as it was a policyshift on how Mississippi will tax its citizens.”

According to Moak, the state tax code leans heavily on themiddle class. He would like to see some of that burden shifted tothose more financially stable.

Attempts to contact District 39 Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith andDistrict 91 Rep. Joey Hudson were unsuccessful.