South Carolina's Senate gave final passage to a 50-cent cigarette tax increase Wednesday, closing debate, at least temporarily, on an issue lawmakers have wrestled with for years.
The vote to hike the cigarette tax, which has been stuck at 7 cents a pack since the 1970s, was 32-12, which is a slight erosion in support from the Senate's initial approval of the measure before Easter.
The increase goes to the House now, which approved a 30- cents a pack cigarette tax increase in its budget several weeks ago.
Republican Gov. Mark Sanford is expected to veto the Senate measure, however.
If Senate support holds, however, the margin the bill passed with Wednesday is sufficient to override Sanford.
The major change made to the bill the Senate approved 10 days ago is where money will come from to fund an I-95 Authority for infrastructure development, and to promote S.C. agriculture.
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