As part of the national wave that swept Democrats into control in last Tuesday's elections, the Oregon Legislature will have a Democrat majority for the first time in 18 years. One of the first steps party leaders may be planning is an increase to the beer tax.
Oregon is one of the top craft beer producers in the United States. Beer taxes in the state are relatively low and have not been increased since 1976. One election issue that dogged incumbent Republicans during this election cycle were reports that several lawmakers were the guests of beer industry lobbyists for conferences in Hawaii. That may come back to haunt brewers who might find it difficult finding elected friends will to fight a tax increase
Media reports quote state Sen. Bill Morrisette, a Democrat from Springfield, as saying he is drafting a bill to increase the tax on beer from 0.75-cents per 12-ounce bottle to a nationwide high of 10.5-cents per bottle. Previous attempts to raise the tax on beer failed in 2001 and 2003 when Republicans in the Oregon Senate blocked the measure.
Sen. Morrisette says raising the 1,400 percent tax is necessary to fund alcohol and drug abuse and prevention programs. He claims that 75 percent of the inmates in Oregon's prisons committed crimes related to alcohol or drug use.