Tobacco tax cuts at heart of Legislature’s legal dispute

Published 5:50 pm Friday, June 9, 2017

ST. PAUL — Gov. Mark Dayton is cranking up the heat on Minnesota lawmakers to undo tax breaks for cigarettes and cigars.

Dayton signed a $650 million tax bill last month that would cut taxes on premium cigars and freeze the state’s cigarette taxes in place after a 2013 hike. The governor called on lawmakers Friday to remove those provisions, which he says are costly and would reverse reductions in youth smoking rates.

It’s wrapped into an ongoing legal dispute between the Democratic governor and Republican Legislature. Dayton zeroed out the Legislature’s funding to force them to revisit tax breaks and other issues.

Republicans are planning to sue Dayton for an action they say is clearly unconstitutional and a violation of the separation of powers. The state’s new budget kicks in July 1.