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Oregon breweries worry alcohol tax hike would cost jobs; bill backers disagree

Supporters claim proposal would create 1,000s of jobs in addiction treatment

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- On Tuesday, House Bill 3296, known as the Addiction Crisis Recovery Act, was introduced in Salem. And like many bills this session, it's already resulting in intense debate over its potential positive or negative impacts.

Supporters say it will reduce harmful underage and binge drinking by raising the wholesale price of all alcohol by 20%.

"Teenagers have less money to spend on alcohol, so the minute you raise the price they are going to buy less, and the same is true for binge drinkers," Mike Marshall of Oregon Recovers said Tuesday.

According to the group, a similar model in Maryland, which increased prices by 3%, resulted in a 26% decline in underage drinking and a 17% decline in adult binge drinking.

"According to the Oregon Health Authority on Friday, we have an alcohol problem too, that excessive alcohol drinking is costing the state economy $4.8 billion annually," Marshall said.

Oregon Recovers says the money raised from the taxes will be invested in more than 2,000 treatment and detox beds and about 3,000 outpatient openings, creating more than 5,000 jobs across the state.

But those in the alcohol industry say it could be very detrimental to them.

Christina LaRue, executive director of the Oregon Brewers Guild, said, "It's disappointing enough to hear of any tax increase during a pandemic, but you put that on top of an industry that is one the hardest hit during the last 12 months, and you're looking at devastating effects, if this were to pass."

According to Oregon Recovers, the bill would result in, on average, a 21-cent retail price increase in the price of a 12-ounce beer, a 31-cent price hike for a glass of wine and an 18-cent increase for a cocktail.

"When you raise prices, then people buy less, and therefore every brewery has to cut expenses, which means jobs," said Deschutes Brewery President Michael LaLonde.

"When we struggle through COVID, most craft breweries, they sold 60 percent of their product through their tasting rooms and bars and restaurants. With those being shut down, there's been huge losses in employment in craft breweries already," LaLonde added.

But Mike Marshall disagrees.

"I would argue that it would create jobs in the restaurant industry," he claimed. "Because if the economy is growing as a result of alcohol not having adverse impacts on the economy, you're going to see more people going out, more people drinking -- moderately. "

The Oregon Beverage Alliance, which has launched a petition in opposition at https://donttaxmydrink.org, issued this statement:

"This appears to be the single largest beer, wine and cider tax increases ever proposed. If the goal is to kill the Oregon beer, wine and cider sectors, this bill is a great start. Beer, wine, cider and spirits are an essential part of Oregon’s economy and identity. House Bill 3296 would eliminate these local jobs with a nearly 3,000% tax increase on beer and cider and almost 2,000% tax increase on wine at a time when these businesses are battling a pandemic recession. This is tremendously insulting and would be an unprecedented blow to a sector that has put Oregon on the map."

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Blake Allen

Blake Allen is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Blake here.

Comments

60 Comments

  1. Some good reporting would be the names of the Legislators that sponsored this Bill! Instead, we get to hear from the organization that paid lobbyists to get it on the agenda! Death by 1000 cuts to the Oregon Hospitality industry!

      1. It is good reporting and anyone too lazy to access links so they can read further, become educated, and have a better understanding of their world probably deserves to be frustrated when they are not spoon-fed, bite by bite, digit by digit, their morning cup of grief.

    1. Ha-Ha… You Kate Brown supporters that linger around here all day like a skunk stealin’ cat food ! It was only a matter of time till the dictator in Salem came for you like she has for all other segments of the Oregon population… and oh how you howl ! Such poetic justice for those of you who didn’t see this coming- but instead clung to every goody-goody word printed here by the folks at the Z who caved in long ago- they know who butters their bread ! So welcome to the plantation- Kalamity Kate runs the place- if yer nice- she’ll get ya a cushy job in the kitchen- serving her ice cold beer in a frosted mug… you can hide in the pantry and lick yer fingers as a reward ! Bwahahaaaa !

      1. The crushing defeat of the poor woman’s dear leader has put her over the top. Counseling and some good old hard physical labor would be in order here. ROTFLMAO!!!!

  2. If established breweries that serve $6+ beers have failed to save money and sustain themselves, nobody should care if they close. This town has entirely too many bars, breweries, and restaurants as it is. We need maybe 1/2 of the ones we currently have.

    1. Maybe you should write a book on how “you” think they should absorb yet another anti-business tax on small businesses. You can use your obvious experience from your lemonade stand days when Grandma and the neighbors would pay you whatever you charged….

  3. How many decades have we spent trying to keep teenagers from drinking, has anyone tried just letting them drink?? Three beers in and they throw up and go to sleep, at least if you do it right

    1. Wow, another subject that you don’t have a clue about…. If you actually talked to one of those kids you would learn that some of them drink till they throw up, clean up and they are good for more drinking. You don’t learn they did this till several years after they are out away and on their own so they can’t get in trouble with mom and dad anymore.

      1. Maybe we should take a lesson from the hundreds of countries that don’t have or have lower drinking ages and figure out what they are doing right! Bad parenting in the USA is probably a big part of it, not trying to keep it away! that obviously doesn’t work from your post!

    1. Oregon hasn’t increased its alcohol taxes in almost 40 years and has some of the lowest in the country. And yes alcohol use/misuse/addiction costs us all a lot of money. When our neighbor is arrested for drinking and driving we have to pay for the judge, trial, prosecutors and the building and support staff. Domestic violence calls have close to 80% involving alcohol. We pay for the police and all the legal stuff there as well as the jail. I’m not big on “sin” taxes, but I’ve seen statistics that made me rethink alcohol taxes. I wish this bill would cover more local financial burdens around alcohol. It’s not been tweaked at all yet so unclear what it will look like in the end.
      Finally, I don’t think the extra 15-25 cents for a drink is really going to stop people from heading to a bar. It wouldn’t stop me from getting a drink.

  4. What do you expect from legislature dudes who love to waste your money. They have not a clue about cutting out all the pork. You get what you vote for and Oregon is the leader of lunacy.

  5. Mike Marshall’s logic is just laughable. That said, I don’t know what the effect will be. I know that I stopped going to pubs often, when a pint got over $5. I just cannot afford it. But, the pubs seemed to be doing well, until the pandemic. and teenagers will ‘pay whatever it costs’.

  6. Why not just match Maryland’s approach and have a 3% tax. Oh, that’s right these modern era Carrie Nations want to clobber the beer and alcohol industry. A 20% tax is ludicrous.

  7. Utter smoke and mirrors.

    Oregon’s lawmakers are now on the furious hunt to find $$ wherever they can to make up for the sizzlingly poor state economy and its needs.

    Can’t get a sales tax to pass so “they” create bypasses to that by coming up with what sound like socially responsible “fixes” like this one. Oregon/Salem is hitting small and large businesses with tax after tax – as was predicted by some they would – telling us it’ll all work out just fine.

    It hasn’t and it won’t. Now we hear another soothing voice offering “it’ll create more jobs in this field”…a voice that apparently has never started, grown, and run a business of their own. What a sham.

    Oregon will continue to see its residents flee to other states with mature and experienced leadership, tax windfall returns sent to their residents (as is happening in Idaho now), far less restrictions on private enterprise, and fiscal sobriety…something Salem has lacked for years now.

    And perhaps why so many Oregonians drink and drug to excess?

  8. “I would argue that it would create jobs in the restaurant industry,” he claimed……….. “Because you’re going to see more people going out, more people drinking — moderately. ”

    Now there is some convoluted thinking. By raising taxes you are going to get more of what you don’t want and that is good. Good grief.

  9. They can work at the solar panel factories with all the unemployed pipeline workers.

    And this is just another tax with a typical political name. A drunk is going to go get the cheapest bottle of vodka at the liquor store and not waste his drinking dollars on 7 dollar pints.

  10. 21 cents per beer seems like an unfair increase to me. I won’t change my drinking habits, but that’s about $2100.00 more per month out of my already tight budget.

  11. I’m certainly not against tax increases where it makes sense, but this guy’s arguing that both more and less drinking will occur with this tax hike. Seems unlikely.

    That said, there’s pretty good price elasticity on beer and margins are high, so maybe things don’t implode, but the net gain seems minimal if any. Best to not do it, I think.

  12. As an adult child of an alcoholic I would have loved some support and education about the disease I inherited. Taxes will affect the tourists and people who can afford to eat out while possibly keeping some of our kids from falling into the fast lane of binge drinking or alcoholism. With liquor stores and pot shops on every corner this next generation is either going to be very enlightened or very stupid. Tax the hell out of everything, that’s how you get the locals out and new rich flesh in. Central o is ruint already.

  13. If you can afford to overpay for the garbage houses being built to keep up with demand then a few cents more for your overpriced hipster beers shouldn’t be a problem? Funny how the clueless assume people are leaving Oregon in droves yet complain about Californians and others coming here in droves ruining their city? If you don’t like it here perhaps Texas or Florida would be to your liking? Bye!

  14. Yeah these are recovered addicts, now they don’t know what to do with their life so now they have to “save” everyone else from the craphole life they led as addicts. Why don’t they tax water? People drown every day. Tax air? Coronavirus travels in air you know, and well those numbers have been shown daily for a year.

    This is stupid, how does this bill even get taken seriously? This would be the final nail in the coffin for many local brewpubs. In a already crushed economy, don’t think many people will be going out for $10 beers.

  15. This guy is a total idiot.

    But Mike Marshall disagrees.
    “I would argue that it would create jobs in the restaurant industry,” he claimed. “Because if the economy is growing as a result of alcohol not having adverse impacts on the economy, you’re going to see more people going out, more people drinking — moderately. “

  16. Oregon legislature seems to pass another tax bill about every other month…and often just to support something the last bill supported (but maybe in a different format). Stunning!

  17. If they think teenagers and binge drinkers are going stop drinking because they raise the cost, you are some kind of stupid. It’s all another money grab!

  18. “Oregon Recovers says the money raised from the taxes will be invested in more than 2,000 treatment and detox beds and about 3,000 outpatient openings, creating more than 5,000 jobs across the state.”

    BULL! Open a center with 25 beds does NOT equal 25 jobs . . . Only a Liberal would be stupid enough to think/believe that! Now if you have a center with 2 or 3 beds, you may needs 5 or more employee’s, but when you start with 15 or more beds, you start having fewer employees then beds. The problem is, the people that think that are NOT business people. They may be book smart, but they’re also street stupid!

  19. Tax, tax, tax….that is what this is about, not the health of others. Politicians will stare you in the face like a robot when confronted with real health concerns, especially when it comes to big pharma (as the Dems are bought by). The Government just can’t leave us alone. They want to control every aspect of our lives and we let them in the name of safety, which is nothing more then a front so they can get what they want. Gas prices are increasing, housing prices are increasing, food prices have increased, restaurant prices have increased. Beer has already gone up from $5 a pint on average to now $6 a pint. Property taxes increase every year and more so with bond measures always passing. Rents are going up no matter what the Gov has tried to do. I could go on. Wake up people!

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