BY ROSS RAMSEY of the Texas Tribune.
When lawmakers write a tax bill, money isn’t all they’re thinking about. Sometimes, it’s not even on the list of things under discussion — like in Tuesday's hearing on vaping legislation in the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee.
And when they are writing tax bills to raise money, they’re making social policy — even when the social effects of a tax aren’t under discussion. That might be the case when the same committee takes up legislation — as soon as Wednesday morning — to raise sales taxes by a penny and use the resulting $5 billion (or more) in revenue to pay for property tax cuts.
The vaping bills were about taxation — thus, their assignment to a tax committee — but government fundraising wasn’t the object. Instead, committee members wanted to know whether vaping products should be taxed based on nicotine content — a way to charge more for more potent drugs and also a way to put more powerful products out of reach for some buyers, such as children.