Republican Legislator Says High Cigarette Taxes Are Oppressing Trailer Park Residents

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The Draz defends the poor's right to cheap smokes

Rep. Steve Drazkowski (R-Mazeppa) doesn't support a higher minimum wage, wanted to repeal a law requiring local governments to pay women equal money for equal work, and supported mandatory drug tests for welfare recipients.

Try to raise taxes on cigarettes, however, and he transforms into a fierce advocate for the poor. See also: Best Villain of 2011: Steve Drazkowski

Yesterday legislators were debating a proposed law (HF 700) that would repeal indexing the cigarette tax rate, making it so cigarette taxes wouldn't automatically rise (or fall, theoretically) each year.

Says the Draz:

"There's a high propensity of people within trailer courts [who are] smokers and I go around and talk to those folks. Not all of them are poor, but the bulk of them are poor. And to see the oppression this tax is placing on them, you hear from those folks, is very, very compelling."

Rep. Carly Melin (D-Hibbing) agreed that high cigarette taxes affect the poor disproportionately, but "the argument that we're sort of protecting poor people by keeping their cigarette taxes low is just a little disingenuous."

She went on to describe how she actually did grow up in a trailer park with a dad who smoked, but they were able to move out and he was able to quit smoking because of the education opportunities he had. Lower taxes on cigarettes wouldn't have fixed that.

h/t Sally Jo Sorensen at Bluestem Prairie and Michael McIntee at The Uptake.

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