Miss. House, Senate pass cigarette, grocery tax bills

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - The Mississippi House and Senate Tuesday passed separate bills to cut taxes on groceries and increase them on cigarettes.

Both bills would cut the 7 percent grocery tax in half. The Senate proposing increasing the cigarette excise tax to 80 cents a pack from the current 18 cents. The House bill would bump the cigarette tax to $1 a pack.

The 93-to-29 House vote came after less than an hour of calm discussion.

But the 30-to-17 Senate vote came after nearly six hours of heated debate.

The two chambers will exchange bills and have to agree on a final version before anything can go to Governor Haley Barbour.

The push for the new cigarette and grocery tax bills comes several weeks after Barbour vetoed another measure that had passed both chambers. It would have phased out the grocery tax over several years while increasing the cigarette excise tax to one-dollar a pack.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)