The US Senate passed a new highway bill on Friday that will hit at least one Brooksville, Florida, business hard and could cause workers to lose their jobs.
A single paragraph in the federal highway bill, aimed at raising tobacco tax revenue, comes as bad news for employees of Tobacco House, in Brooksville, Florida.
“Congress’ deficit-reduction Super Committee, which met in the fall, quietly looked at ways to raise revenue by closing the (tobacco) tax loophole,” according to the Washington Post.
The new taxes on tobacco are aimed specifically at small businesses that allow customers to roll their own cigarettes by renting the use of a rolling machine. In order to continue operating, businesses like Tobacco House face new fees, taxes, and additional regulations that could put them out of business.
Tobacco House in Spring Hill has 5 employees who will face unemployment if the business is forced to close its doors.
One Tobacco House employee said on Friday, “I don’t know what I’m going to do if this place closes and I don’t even know for sure if it will.”
There is a chance Tobacco House will continue to operate in some way at their Cortez Boulevard store, at least for the year-long balance of their current lease.
However, the loss of jobs from the new Republican-sponsored legislation travels further than Florida.
Rolling machine maker, Phil Accordino and his employees also face problems with the new law. He told the Washington Post, “demand for his machines would dry up and he’d be forced out of business. Gone would be his new factory, which employs 35 workers in a corner of Ohio hit hard by steel mill closures.”
The highway bill’s sponsor, Republican Senator Max Baucus of Montana, has taken $30,000 in PAC money from big tobacco company lobbyists in recent years, which suggests the influence of money in politics may be working against small business job creators.
The Republicans sided against small business interests and their employees, in part, because they claimed small businesses like the Tobacco House in Brooksville, Florida, had an unfair tax advantage over big multi-national tobacco companies.
What happens in Washington, D.C. is clearly felt when it hits home in small town Florida.
Since Hernando County has still not recovered from the housing market crash of 2008, Brooksville is an area that can scarcely afford to lose a single job.