A bill to raise the age for purchasing tobacco products was voted out of the Senate State Affairs Committee on Monday by the narrow margin of 5-4.

Authored by the committee’s chairman State Sen. Joan Huffman (R–Houston), the bill passed with the support of both Democrats on the committee, State Sens. Eddie Lucio (Brownsville) and Judith Zaffirini (Laredo), in addition to Republican State Sens. Jane Nelson (Flower Mound) and Bryan Hughes (Mineola).

Hughes provided the pivotal vote to send the legislation to the full body, but his office told Texas Scorecard that Hughes said he voted the bill out of committee “to let debate occur on the floor,” but intends to oppose it upon its arrival because the issue is a matter of personal liberty.

In committee, the four nay votes were Republican State Sens. Brian Birdwell (Granbury), Brandon Creighton (Conroe), Pat Fallon (Prosper), and Bob Hall (Edgewood).

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick made the issue a priority for himself and the chamber last month before the legislature’s bill filing deadline. The priority was one of 30 legislative priorities overall, but one that has received a high level of criticism from conservatives who question the bill’s justification as a priority being considered by the typically more conservative Senate body.

On Wednesday the bill landed on the Senate’s Intent Calendar, indicating the bill could be heard by the body within the coming days.

Destin Sensky

Destin Sensky serves as a Capitol Correspondent for Texas Scorecard covering the Texas Legislature, working to bring Texans the honest and accurate coverage they need to hold their elected officials in Austin accountable.

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