Indiana panel backs higher fines for underaged tobacco sales

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - The push to toughen Indiana’s penalties on stores for selling tobacco products to underage customers is facing some questions over whether the proposed fines are too steep.

Members of state Senate’s health committee voted 11-0 on Wednesday to endorse the bill that includes raising the minimum age for smoking and vaping from 18 to 21 to conform with the new federal law.

The Senate proposal would triple possible retailer fines to between $600 and $3,000 based on number of violations in a six-month period.

In the Indiana House, members voted 53-44 Tuesday in favor of the bill abolishing the 13 township assessor offices that remain in nine counties.

The bill would transfer to county assessor offices those duties for determining the value of buildings and land for property taxes.

The 13 township assessor offices remain after voters decided to retain them in 2008 referendums allowed under a law that abolished more than 950 such offices across the state.

Supporters say state reports have found that county offices have been more cost effective and fair in property assessments.

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