Busloads of people from the Seneca Nation in New York state traveled to a state Senate committee hearing so that they could testify against the proposed collection of cigarette taxes.
“We will never allow the state to tax our commerce,” says Tribal Councilor J.C. Seneca, according to this story in the Jamestown (N.Y.) Post-Journal. “No other government has the right to interfere. We will fight to uphold these rights now and forever.”
New York law enforcement is well aware that such talk is not empty rhetoric. Previous attempts to collect taxes on cigarette sales at tribal smoke shops to nontribal members led to spirited demonstrations, including disruptions along the New York Thruway. However, the current recession has hit New York hard and there is renewed interest in the millions in revenues that the tax collection would bring the state.
According to the story, Pter Kiernan, Gov. David Paterson’s chief legal counsel, says a New York State Police threat assessment predicted that collecting the taxes could cost $2 million a day, and that such action also might lead to violence that could escalate into a “military problem.”
Seneca urged lawmakers to work with the tribe to find a compromise.