By Nathan Baker
An Elizabethton state representative is having second thoughts about a controversial bill he introduced in the House recently that could eliminate the excise tax on tobacco products.
Among the usual flurry of filings in the opening weeks of the state General Assembly, Rep. Kent Williams, I-Elizabethton, proposed a bill to gradually eliminate the state excise tax on cigarettes by 2015 and other tobacco products by 2018, but said recently that he only introduced the bill as a favor to fellow lawmaker Sen. Frank Niceley, R-Strawberry Plains. He said he would likely not push for its passage.
“It was never really going to happen,” Williams said. “I think I’m going to end up pulling that legislation if no one else signs up as a co-sponsor.”
Williams said he agreed to sponsor the bill for Niceley, who filed its companion in the Senate, because another representative who originally intended to file it had already reached the 15-bill limit imposed on legislators this year by the House Rules Committee.
He said the intent of the bill was to start a conversation about the loss of revenue to surrounding states that already have lower taxes on tobacco products.