Anti-smoking efforts had yet another setback this week. HB 1444, a bill to tax e-cigarettes that started in the House passed the Senate this week – but without the tax. Instead, the bill was amended to send it to study committee due to lack of support in the Senate. The plan was to pass the weakened version of the bill to have a vehicle, in the hopes that the House and Senate leaders can work behind the scenes in the final days of the legislative session to find compromise tax provisions. Part of the concern was exactly what or how to tax – the device or the cartridges? Should the tax be based on the nicotine content or simply a flat excise tax? These questions should hopefully be answered soon. In addition, due to the budget shortfall that was announced earlier this week, legislators need to figure out how to either trim an additional $100 million out of their budget or find a way to plug that hole. Anti-smoking advocates are still hopeful that an increase in the cigarette tax is still on the table to help fill that shortfall. Committee hearings are completed for the 2019 legislative session. Conference committees are announced within one-hour of the hearing.