The lawmakers pictured above are State Reps Katie Henke, Harold Wright and Collin Walke. They are three of the eight Oklahoma lawmakers who voted "Yay" yesterday to send the HB 1686 to the House Appropriations and Budget Finance Subcommittee. If passed by the legislature and signed into law, the legislation would eliminate sales taxes on beer and alcohol sales, but dramatically increase excise taxes on the wholesale end, leading to substantially higher prices for your favorite beer, wine or cheap vodka.
I'm totally fine paying a sin tax on alcohol. It can be addictive, dangerous and usually leads to some sort of drunk text, tragic death or 2:00am visit to Taco Bell. As a result, it should be taxed more than other products.
That being said, this seems ridiculous. They seriously want to raise the tax on a barrel of beer from $12.50 to $45? Math gives me shakes and the beer shits, and even I know that's a bad deal. Every lobbyist in the state who works with or for the alcohol industry agrees with me.
“HB 1686 is a massive tax hike on alcoholic beverages that will dramatically increase the cost of beer and liquor in Oklahoma. If it is passed, it will encourage consumers to shop out-of-state, where alcohol will be considerably cheaper. It will undoubtedly lead to hundreds of jobs lost for people in the alcohol industry. It also threatens to cut the legs out from under Oklahoma’s emerging local craft beer and spirits community.” Stated Alex Weintz, executive director of Modernize Oklahoma...
“The bill more than doubles the excise tax for spirits from $1.47 per liter to $3.50 per liter. It more than triples the tax for beer: taking it from $12.50 to $45. We are working to verify this, but we believe that would give Oklahoma the highest excise taxes in the country."
Wait a minute? That Alex Weintz? I guess years of working for Mary Fallin will drive anyone to the bottle.
Here's what the Retail Liquor Association of Oklahoma had to say. They fought valiantly to keep Oklahoma's liquor and alcohol laws in the stone age and even they're against it:
"Although Rep. Wright's bill does eliminate sales tax on spirits and beer, the increase in excise tax results in significantly higher prices on the majority of spirits and beer sold in Oklahoma.
"For example, a 1.0 liter bottle of Evan Williams that sells for $11 (plus tax) now, for a total cost of about $11.95, would cost more than $13 under Rep Wright's proposal. A 1.0 liter bottle of the popular inexpensive whiskey, Kentucky Deluxe, would go from a total cost of about $7.50 to about $9.25 (more than a 20% increase). A 30-pack of Pabst that sells for ~$18.50 (including tax) now would be increased to $20, costing the consumer an extra $1.50 per 30-pack. Increases to low-cost "3.2" beer brands would be even more significant.”
It would lead to higher prices for horse piss? Hmmn. Maybe it's not that bad of a bill after all.
Anyway, if you want to ultimately pay higher prices for beer and alcohol, I'd recommend calling your lawmaker and telling them to vote "Yes" for this bill. If you think our alcohol taxation is fine the way it is, call them and demand they vote "No." If you don't drink and therefore really don't give a damn, well, then I both envy and feel sorry for you.