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April 15, 2009 (512) 463-0300

SENATE APPROVES RAISING THE SMOKING AGE

Sen. Uresti
Sen. Carlos Uresti of San Antonio won passage of his bill to raise the smoking age in Texas to 19.

(AUSTIN) — Texans would have to wait to the age of 19 to legally buy cigarettes and other tobacco products under a bill passed by the Senate Wednesday. Bill author Senator Carlos Uresti of San Antonio said raising the legal age to purchase tobacco could reduce the number of 18 year-olds smoking by 20 percent. "Since many of our 18 year-olds are still in high school, they could be a dissemination source to their underage peers," he said.

Sen. Patrick
Houston Sen. Dan Patrick answers questions about his bill that would make it illegal for people lawfully detained to refuse to identify themselves to a police officer.

The bill, SB 1049, would actually cost the state money in the short term: about $12 million in lost funds to the Tax Payer Relief fund, dedicated to property tax relief. These funds are not appropriated in the bill, rather, the reduction comes because fewer smokers means less tobacco tax money dedicated to the fund. Health and Human Services Committee Chair Jane Nelson of Flower Mound said this is revenue the state can afford to give up. " You are going to save the state multiple times this amount of money in tobacco related illnesses that we would see on down the line," said Nelson. "I think this is a good investment."

The Senate also approved a bill that would require suspicious individuals to comply to police requests for identification. Current law prohibits a lawfully-detained person from giving false information to the police, but does not require a person to identify themselves under the same circumstances. SB 1175, by Houston Senator Dan Patrick would make it illegal for a person who is lawfully detained to refuse to identify themselves to a peace officer. The bill was amended by Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa of McAllen to include objective criteria under which a person can be detained, to prevent otherwise law-abiding citizens being forced to give ID to the police for no reason.

The Senate will reconvene Thursday, April 16, at 8 a.m. for the Local and Uncontested Calendar, and will convene in regular session at 11 a.m.

Session video and all other webcast recordings can be accessed from the Senate website's audio and video archive pages.

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