State lawmaker pushes for tax increase on beer

Beer tax increase

LANSING, MICH. - Michigan's beer tax would increase by five cents under a plan introduced at the state capitol today. The hope is to lessen alcohol related deaths, but beer experts and law makers say this isn't the way to do it. 

The beer tax was raised 50 years ago. The Chamber of Commerce, beer and wine wholesalers and restaurants have successfully blocked any increases ever since. Backers claim, lives will be saved if the tax is hiked.
 
"There's a lot of research behind this, it will reduce violence, including rapes. homicides there are increases in college graduation rates, reduces sexually transmitted diseases, reduces cirrhosis and fatalities," Mike Tobias with Michigan Alcohol Policy Group said,
 
But if the increase goes to the House Tax Police Committee, there are those who oppose it.
     
"The tax we have now on beer hits lower income people harder than upper income people," State Representative Jim Townsend said.
 
"Maybe we'll raise the price so high that people drinking beer wont be able to buy it and we lose the ones already buying it," Representative Wendell Byrd said. 
 
The bill's sponsor concedes in an election year, it will be tough to get yes votes however, if adopted it could raise $60 million earmarked for prevention and treatment of alcohol related diseases.
 
"The tobacco people felt the same way when the people were attacking the tobacco industry obviously it took a long time but they won. You don't win a battle by not starting. its a sin tax but it will save lives," bill sponsor Jim Hooker said.


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