Kevin Abourezk: Tribes in Nebraska oppose tobacco taxation bill

"When Lance Morgan went to work for his tribe in 1992, the Winnebago Tribe had just $180,000 in discretionary funds.

The Harvard law graduate helped create businesses and jobs, and the tribe now employs nearly 2,000 people and generates more than $200 million in annual revenue.

On Wednesday, Morgan went to the state Capitol to fight for a portion of that revenue, about $250,000 in taxes the tribe collects each year on cigarette sales that are being targeted by a legislative bill.

"It's something that we want to fight for," said Morgan, CEO of Ho-Chunk Inc., his tribe's economic arm.

Introduced by Sen. Mike Gloor of Grand Island, LB590 would require tribes to make payments to Nebraska in order for the state to continue receiving millions of dollars each year through a national settlement agreement that was reached with the four largest tobacco companies in 1998.

Nebraska is fighting the tobacco companies over demands that states force smaller tobacco companies, including those operated by tribes, to also make payments to the states for smoking-related medical costs, said David Cookson, chief deputy attorney general."

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Kevin Abourezk: Tribe opposes bill targeting tribal cigarette sales (The Lincoln Journal Star 3/3)

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