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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Removing the State Grocery Tax Fails Again

An attempt to remove the state portion of the sales tax on groceries failed on procedural vote Tuesday, though it was probably closer than ever to passing.

It was the fourth time this session that the bill, which would remove the 4 percent state sales tax on groceries by eliminating the federal income tax deduction from state income taxes, failed by one vote to get past the budget isolation resolution. State Rep. John Knight, D-Montgomery, is the bill's sponsor.

The bill was closer than it has been all year to passing because two Republicans (Rep. Spencer Collier, R-Mobile and Rep. Ron Johnson, R-Sylacauga) and a Democrat (Rep. Richard Laird) who had previously voted against passing the budget isolation resolution, actually voted in favor of it.

But there were four Democrats (Rep. Lesley Vance, D-Phenix City, Rep. Lea Fite, D-Jacksonville, Rep. Joseph Mitchell, D-Mobile and Rep. Yusuf Salaam, D-Selma) who were either absent or not in the room when the vote took place. There votes would have not only given the bill enough votes to get by the procedural vote, but it also would have been enough votes to pass the bill.

Republicans held firm to their position not to vote for a bill that would eliminate the federal income deduction from state taxes.

Minority Leader State Rep. Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn, said that Democrats would not compromise, nor look at any of the alternative legislation that they proposed to allow the state to eliminate or reduce the burden of the state sales tax.

"They knew that we wouldn't support any bill that eliminates that deduction because it is a $400 million tax increase on somebody," Hubbard said. "But it was their way or the highway."

-- posted by Markeshia Ricks

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Location: Montgomery, AL, United States

South Union Street is the blog of Montgomery Advertiser political reporters Markeshia Ricks and Sebastian Kitchen. Always check here for the latest on the Legislature, elections and other activities and players in Alabama.

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