by Javier Manjarres
With the start of 2011 Legislative session in Tallahassee less than two weeks away, a line in the sand has been drawn by Opa-Locka based cigarette manufacturer Dosal, Inc., regarding a looming tax that ’Big Tobacco’ is encouraging the Florida Legislature to impose on Dosal and other small tobacco companies who were not penalized in the infamous 1998 tobacco settlement that forced larger cigarette makers to pay out billions to the state in smoking-related health-care costs. Dosal, Inc. is a family business that moved to Miami from Cuba in the early1960′s after the rise of Castro. While the bill is rumored to be in the early drafting stage, there is speculation that the tax will be buried within the state budget rather than in free standing tax bill that will undoubtedly be voted down.
Several key legislators have already come out in support of Dosal including Senators Anitere Flores, (R)-Miami; Rene Garcia, (R)-Hialeah; Miguel Diaz De La Portilla, (R)-Miami and Representative Esteban Bovo, Jr, (R)-Hialeah.
“It is unfair and flat out wrong to punish Dosal for something they did not do. Dosal was excluded from the big Tobacco lawsuits because they did not participate in the practice that got others in trouble. To come now after the fact and force the company to pay for the sins of others is something that the Hispanic Caucus will not support.” -Rep. Esteban Bovo, Chairman- Hispanic Caucus
Senate President Mike Haridopolos recently commented regarding this matter that, “some people have said that if businesses are in competition, everyone should pay the same tax rate.” However, this is very curious statement from Haridopolos, a known fiscal hawk as well as a U.S. Senate candidate in 2012. During Governor Rick Scott’s historic run for Governor in 2010, Scott ran pro-growth/lower taxes platform, and yet the Governor has not yet taken a position on this specific tax increase- a tax increase which if levied on Dosal and other smaller cigarette makers would force these business(s) to potentially shutdown and lay-off hundreds of employees- not something Governor Scott would want to occur on his watch.
I visited the Dosal Inc. headquarters in Opa-Locka and visited with its CEO, Yoland R. Nader. Nadar agreed to go on the record and speak in more detail about the issue her company is facing.