Legal fights over Missouri tobacco tax hike continue

8 months 4 days 12 hours ago August 19, 2016 Aug 19, 2016 Friday, August 19 2016 Friday, August 19, 2016 7:39:47 PM CDT in News
By: The Associated Press

JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — A Missouri judge is weighing whether to remove from the Nov. 8 ballot a proposed cigarette tax hike to benefit early childhood programs.

Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem heard lawyers' arguments Friday in three cases challenging the proposal.

If approved by voters, the measure would raise Missouri's lowest-in-the-nation cigarette tax from 17 to 77 cents a pack and impose additional fees on some brands.

Attorneys for convenience and tobacco store owners against the measure told Beetem that a change in the summary after petitions were gathered should invalidate those signatures. Secretary of State Jason Kander put the measure on the ballot despite the change.

Attorneys for Kander and the initiative backers say it's the will of voters who signed the petition to keep it on the ballot.

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