Lawmakers consider excise tax on booze

Representatives of liquor wholesalers and distributors are urging the legislature’s revenue committee NOT to advance a bill that would increase Nebraska’s excise tax on liquor. Senator Leroy Louden of Ellsworth proposes a bill (LB 59) to hike the excise tax, providing money to state and local law enforcement, to fight violent crime.

The bill would increase the excise tax on alcohol and spirits, beer and wine to fund grants under the Citizen Safety Grant Fund, which would be created by the measure. That tax would be five-cents per-gallon on beer, three-cents per-gallon on wine and seven-cents per-gallon on alcohol and spirits.

Walt Radcliffe, a lobbyist for the Nebraska Liquor Wholesalers Association, told the revenue committee the state has traditionally steered clear of excise taxes for specific projects.

John Fordham owns a beer distributorship and is President of the Nebraska Beverage Distributors Association. He says Nebraska’s excise tax on alcohol is among the highest in the region. Fordham says the increased tax would hurt an industry that already has a slim profit margin. He says increasing the excise tax would ultimately affect the consumer. Fordham says the bill would make it tough on Nebraska bars and restaurants.

Under Louden’s bill, city police departments, county sheriffs and the state patrol would be able to apply for and receive grants funded by the higher tax.

Thanks to Doug Kennedy, KBWE, Beatrice