Tobacco

pixabay / flickr Creative Commons

A Shawnee County District Court judge has temporarily blocked an ordinance that raises the tobacco-buying age in Topeka to 21.

The ruling comes after two Topeka businesses, with the assistance of the Kansas Vapers Association, filed a lawsuit this week challenging the regulation. The ordinance was scheduled to go into effect Thursday. The businesses claim the mandate conflicts with state law, which allows the sale of tobacco to people 18 and older.

Meg Wingerter / Kansas News Service

Dana Stanton drove hours from Hays to a Friday meeting in Topeka hoping to learn what the governor’s budget proposal would mean for the children’s programs she oversees.

After the Kansas Children’s Cabinet meeting adjourned, she didn’t know much more than she did before.

Kansas Lawmakers Hear Testimony Over Tobacco Tax

Feb 1, 2017
Andy Marso / Kansas News Service

Kansas legislators have heard testimony on Gov. Sam Brownback’s proposal to help close a budget hole by raising tobacco taxes. But they haven’t scheduled a vote and, as Andy Marso reports, there’s plenty of opposition.

Public health advocates pushing for Kansas to increase taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products are running into the same opposing arguments they did two years ago.

Tobacco Money Plays Key Role In Brownback Budget Plan

Jan 12, 2017
pixabay / flickr Creative Commons

Gov. Sam Brownback’s budget proposal would sell the state’s future payments from tobacco companies to plug financial holes for the next two years.

The budget proposal — outlined Wednesday morning — calls for the state to receive $265 million from “securitizing” the tobacco payments in fiscal year 2018, which starts in July, and the same amount in the following year.

Sean Sandefur / KMUW

Kansas is one of 46 states that have been receiving significant amounts of money each year from tobacco settlements. Nearly 20 years ago, when the settlement was decided, states were encouraged to use the money for cessation programs and tobacco-related health care costs. In Kansas, the money is funneled into an early childhood education endowment. But the programs that rely on this funding are worried that their ability to serve the community will be in jeopardy if large amounts of the settlement money continues to be diverted to the state’s general fund.

Dave Ranney, Heartland Health Monitor

The head of a Kansas advocacy group opposes a plan to sell off part of a tobacco lawsuit settlement. The annual payments from the settlement fund children’s programs.

The proposal from Gov. Sam Brownback would sell off part of the payments in exchange for immediate cash to help the state fix a budget shortfall. Shannon Cotsoradis, with the group Kansas Action for Children, calls it a short-term solution.

Stephen Koranda / KPR

Selling bonds to generate a large amount of cash from the state’s tobacco settlement remains a budget balancing option. But there appears to be growing opposition to the idea in the Legislature.

State budget director Shawn Sullivan says no deal is under discussion. But he says trading years of steady tobacco payments for hundreds of millions in up-front cash remains an option if the state’s budget problems continue to worsen.

But opposition to the idea appears to be growing on both sides of the legislative aisle.

Dave Ranney, Heartland Health Monitor

Documents obtained by a child advocacy organization show that representatives of a Wall Street firm met with Kansas officials about bonding the state’s tobacco settlement last fall.

Kansas Action for Children President Shannon Cotsoradis says a document her organization obtained from a national business reporter confirms that a plan for bonding the state’s tobacco settlement is under discussion.

Matthew Cunnelly, flickr Creative Commons

The head of a nonprofit organization that advocates for children is blowing the whistle on plans to raise some quick cash for the state treasury by selling the state’s tobacco settlement. State officials say no deal has been struck.

Shannon Cotsoradis, the president of Kansas Action for Children, says she has reason to believe that Gov. Sam Brownback wants to securitize a settlement reached decades ago to end a lawsuit against the nation’s major tobacco companies.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

Big tobacco spent the most money of any Kansas organization lobbying the state government last year. Altria Client services spent $223,000.

From the AP:  

A group affiliated with the tobacco industry spent the most money last year lobbying Kansas state government, followed distantly by an organization that opposed efforts to expand the state's liquor laws.

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