Eye On Boise

Packed hearing for beer, wine tax hike

The hearing room is packed on Monday morning for a public hearing on legislation to raise Idaho's beer and wine taxes for the first time in more than four decades. Keith Allred, a former Harvard professor who heads the good-government group The Common Interest, presents the bill to the committee to begin the public hearing, 2/23/09 (Betsy Russell / The Spokesman-Review)
The hearing room is packed on Monday morning for a public hearing on legislation to raise Idaho's beer and wine taxes for the first time in more than four decades. Keith Allred, a former Harvard professor who heads the good-government group The Common Interest, presents the bill to the committee to begin the public hearing, 2/23/09 (Betsy Russell / The Spokesman-Review)

It's standing-room only at the hearing this morning on legislation to raise Idaho's beer and wine taxes - unchanged for the past four decades - to fund substance abuse treatment. "This increase is pocket change for the vast majority of responsible drinkers," sponsor Keith Allred of The Common Interest told the House Revenue & Taxation Committee. Though the taxes would more than triple, the increase would be less than a dollar a month for a beer drinker who buys a six-pack a week, he said.

Every seat in the hearing room, a meeting room in the basement of the Idaho Supreme Court building that's larger than any hearing room at the Capitol Annex, is taken, and people are lined up standing around the back and side walls of the room. Committee Chairman Dennis Lake, R-Blackfoot, said, "We now have 54 people signed up to testify." If the committee happens to get through all that testimony this morning and still has time to debate and vote on the bill, it will, he said. "We could vote today, but I suspect it will not be today."




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