Tobacco escrow fund bill passes in Senate

Tobacco escrow fund bill passes in Senate by Jaimi Reimer Lawmakers passed a bill establishing an escrow fund for companies not participating in November�s Master Settlement Agreement with certain tobacco manufacturers.

The Senate passed SB28 33-1 on Friday to set up an account for tobacco companies not participating in the tobacco settlement to deposit money into. In turn, the state would disburse the money to future claims against non-participating tobacco product manufacturers.

If passed, these manufacturers can voluntarily enter into a settlement or be forced to deposit money into the escrow fund after being found liable by the courts.

The bill would require a manufacturer selling cigarettes on or after July 1, 1999 to become a participating manufacturer and perform its financial obligations under the Master Settlement Agreement or place into a qualified escrow fund by April 15, 1999 approximately one cent per unit (cigarette) sold within South Dakota.

The bill was introduced by the Judiciary Committee at the request of the Attorney General.

SB28 now moves to the House for further consideration.

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