February 23rd, 2009 | by Dan Green News | Posted In: CLEAN UP

Good Brews, Bad News

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On tap this morning in Salem was a topic dear to all WW staff: beer.


Rep. Ben Cannon (D-Portland) spoke first at the legislative hearing on HB 2461 (PDF), most commonly known as the bill to raise the Beer Tax.


Cannon mentioned that while Oregon's budget is being slashed, and revenue is in a freefall, the state should evaluate all options, including an increase in the beer tax.


Cannon told the House Revenue Committee that Oregon's beer tax is low compared to other states and that the tax hasn't been raised in 32 years.


Among the bill's many opponents was Kurt Widmer, cofounder of Portland's Widmer Brothers.


Widmer argued excise taxes are an inefficient way to generate revenue. He later said, “It's failed logic that in 32 years hasn't made sense.”


According to Widmer, HB 2461 would increase his brewery's excise tax from about $250,000 a year to well over $4 million a year. “We can't handle that,” he said.


Gary Fish, founder and president of Deschutes Brewery, seconded Widmer's concerns and estimated a similar financial hit for his company.


Fish argued that he'd have no choice but to pass the added expense onto consumers.


As today's two-hour hearing came to an end, committee Chairman Rep. Phil Barnhart (D-Eugene), said he was only halfway through a six-page list of people who wanted to testify. Additional time has been set aside for 8 am this Wednesday to hear the rest of the public testimony.


 
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