In the 2009 legislative session, lawmakers who sought to raise Oregon's relatively low beer taxes saw their attempts at increasing that tax crushed like the empty bottles that end up in recycling plants.
Now comes veteran State Sen. Rod Monroe (D-East Portland) in the 2011 Legislature with a different version of a beer tax. Rather than trying to implement a statewide measure, Monroe wants to give individual counties the ability to raise taxes locally. That's an idea the perennially-broke Multnomah County has considered in recently years.
Monroe's Senate Bill 696 would ostensibly raise money for addiction treatment, according to the legislatively-prepared summary:
Authorizes counties to impose taxes on malt beverages and wine.Directs Oregon Liquor Control Commission to collect taxes.Distributes tax revenues to counties imposing tax, for specifiedpurposes relating to alcohol or drug addiction.
But Danelle Romain—who represents the powerful Oregon Beer & Wine Distributors Association, which killed the 2009 tax—does not think her members would appreciate their customers crossing county lines to avoid a tax.
"We're opposed," Romain says. "It [Monroe's bill] creates a competitive disadvantage depending on which county levies what tax."