Texas Rep. Chris Turner (D – District 101) filed House Bill 1411 February 1st with a special interest, “…to fund grants for local law enforcement mental health staff; imposing taxes.” No doubt our law enforcement are faced with many challenging, dangerous situation with many connections to mental health problems experienced by those the police often deal with. This tax bill proposes to fund grants for contracted mental health staff positioned with police to assist with specific situations their expertise is deemed beneficial in.
Taxes are monies taken from some people to pay for either shared needs or the needs of other people through force of law. It is a financial penalty assessed against property or the acquisition of property whether income tax, sales tax, countless fees, or “sin” tax.
Some taxation is necessary for the general benefit of all. General needs should be assessed equally and paid from the general fund. The need for mental health staff, if agreed to be general in nature, would need to be properly funded through a retail sales tax increase applied equally, politicians hate raising sales taxes.
Rep. Turner proposes imposing taxes specifically on those who vape to pay for a general need. Most vapers either are former smokers or those transitioning off cigarettes. Many who vape are working class families, military, veterans, and others who are attempting to live smoke-free, healthier lives. Most are not rich, nor are they the reason for an increase in local law enforcement’s need for contracted mental health staff. Police are not suddenly experiencing increased calls involving unstable, abusive, out-of-control vapers are they?
Here are a few other quick questions Rep. Tuner, I hope you have time or staff to address them.
Why are those attempting to live smoke-free through vaping being penalized and forced to pay for funding contracts granted to local law enforcement for mental health staff?
If vapers are unable to pay or afford this imposed tax would the state prefer vapers return to smoking?
If nicotine and vaping is somehow being connected with a dramatic increase in a specific need for mental health staff accompanying police where is the data to show this connection?
Is nicotine the common denominator, not vaping? If so, where is the additional taxation imposed on nicotine patches, nicotine gum, eggplants, tomatoes and anything else with nicotine?
Where is the proof nicotine results in an increase need in state contracted mental health staff?
How are those vaping also sinning to a level a draconian “sin tax” is being proposed against the vaping community solely?
There are many other questions regarding HB 1411 Rep. Turner needs to answer but if we start with these I believe the conversation can begin.
The way this bill reads right now it is a blatant assault on a community, the vaping community, simply striving to live smoke-free, healthier lives while enjoying their life, liberty, and that pesky pursuit of happiness. At this point Rep. Turner, it sure appears to be a crazy way to pay for mental health in Texas.