A proposal to establish the Missouri Tobacco Settlement Trust Fund is one vote away from passing the House and moving toward a compromise with the Senate. Hours of debate at the end of last week produced numerous amendments, but no final vote. Democrats chose NOT to hold a final vote when their numbers during a late session April 19th dropped below the 82 to ensure its passage. Sponsor Tim Van Zandt of Kansas City suspects Republicans won’t cooperate. He charges Republicans have no plan for spending the money and hope to block any efforts on tobacco legislation this session. Representative Catherine Hanaway of Warson Woods is the leading Republican on the issue. She says Van Zandt is incorrect. Hanaway says Republicans want voters to have a clear choice to either spend the money on health care programs or return it to general revenue, which would make it subject to calculations to determine Hancock Amendment refunds. The bill would establish a fund to catch the billions coming to the state. The legislature wouldn’t be able to appropriate from the fund until voters approve a constitutional amendment on how it should be spent or January next year if voters don’t decide.
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