Colorado’s General Assembly will not ask voters to approve a new vaping tax and cigarette tax increase, handing Gov. Jared Polis his first legislative defeat in the final hours of the legislature’s session.
The proposed ballot initiative was a late priority for Polis, who asked lawmakers to send the tax increase question to voters with just 10 days left in the session.
Thursday evening, on second reading of the bill in the Senate, only nine Democrats stood in support of it. It needed at least 18 votes to pass.
“The Governor is disappointed by the decision to take this choice out of the hands of Colorado voters,” Polis’ office said in a statement. “This measure would have reduced our staggering rates of teen vaping while increasing funding for early childhood education and saving people money on healthcare.”
The legislation would have raised taxes on a pack of cigarettes from $0.84 to $2.59 — a nearly 200% increase. It also would have increased the tax on all other nicotine products from 40% to 62% of the listed manufacturer price. The legislature was also going to ask voters to approve adding vape juice, or e-liquids, to the list of products covered by that nicotine product tax.
State Sen. Rhonda Fields, the Aurora Democrat who sponsored the legislation, said she was “blindsided” by the vote. She did not have immediate plans to put the question to voters through a regular ballot initiative process.
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