The only certainty to come out of a Senate House Conference committee meeting on changes in Louisiana's cigarette tax is this, smokers will be paying more for cigarettes in the very near future. Just how much more will be decided in this conference committee. Right now the difference between the Senate proposal and the House proposal is .40 cents.

The Senate passed version of the cigarette tax increase would raise the total taxes on a pack of smokes to $1.08. The House version of the same legislation would raise the total tax to .68 cents per pack.

So what is the real reason this measure was sent to a conference committee? Politics. That was summed up quite nicely by the comments of Alexandria Representative Lance Harris who told the Louisiana Radio Network,

Maybe you can go home and say, 'I raised your taxes by 200-percent.'  Because, in essence, that's what you are doing if you accept the Senate's amendment on this.

Spoken like a true patriot whose only mission in life is to get re-elected.

Meanwhile Bogalusa Representative Harold Richie, a supporter of the Senate's version of the bill at least tries to hide political ambition with a thin veil of health care logic.

What did we expect the Senate to do?  Just say, 'Okay, fellows, ya'll got it right and we're just going to leave health care out of the picture.'  This is the health care bill that fills up the budget for health care.

Richie was referring to the House's defense of higher education funding but criticizing the lack of funding for health care.