James A. Everett
To the editor:
There are both good and bad politicians. I am pleased to report that Ira Anders, state representative for the 21st District (Independence) is a good one. He strongly believes in governmental financial transparency and works hard to keep his constituency well informed.
In a recent report, he wrote about the looming fight concerning the huge 1998 lawsuit settlement between large tobacco companies and 45 states, including Missouri. In the settlement, R. J. Reynolds, Phillip Morris, Brown & Williamson and Lorillard agreed to make annual payments to help reimburse Medicaid costs due to smoking-related illnesses. The judgment, while noting that tobacco use was a personal choice, agreed that it caused health problems; thus the tobacco companies should help pay for the added medical expenses involved.
However, there was a stipulation that the annual settlement payments could be reduced if the large tobacco companies suffered a loss in market share, or if the states failed to diligently enforce settlement provisions.
Since that settlement, “new” brands have entered the market and the older cigarette companies contend that, among other things, Missouri did not diligently enforce the terms of the settlement. Thus, they argue, this year’s tobacco payment should be reduced from $130 million to $61 million. That amounts to a significant $69 million dollar loss to schools, mental health, roads, bridges, etc.
Rep. Rick Stream, House budget chair, has filled HB 1242 to try to stop this potential loss in revenue, and Rep. Anders has pledged his support to pass it.
This is a good example why we need good hard working representatives in Jefferson City to protect citizen interests. I’m pleased to report that, in my opinion, Representative Ira Anders is just that type of politician.