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Craft brewers to lawmakers: “We’re here! We’re beer! Get used to it!”

Post by Jimmy Lovaas / The News Tribune on April 19, 2013 at 5:44 pm |
April 19, 2013 6:05 pm
Many protest signs at Friday's beer excise tax protest had a decidedly humorous tone. Photo by Jimmy Lovaas
Many rally signs at Friday’s beer excise tax protest had a decidedly humorous tone. Photo by Jimmy Lovaas

Following a public hearing on a proposal that would extend and expand the beer excise tax, brewers and beer fans gathered on the steps of the Legislature to voice their anger.

A number of lawmakers came to speak to the crowd, including Rep. Jan Angel, R-Port Orchard. Angel, donning a red raincoat and hat, used a bullhorn to address the sign-wielding crowd.

“I voted against this tax the first time, and I’m sure as heck am not going to support it a second time,” Angel said.

The beer excise tax, which was originally $8.08 per barrel, was increased to $23.58 per barrel in 2010. The increase was supposed to be a temporary revenue fix and was set to expire this June.

However, House Bill 2038 would extend the tax until the end of 2016. It would also expand the tax to small craft brewers. Currently, the first 60,000 barrels a small brewer produces is exempt from the excise tax. If SB 5039 is approved as proposed, that exemption would end.

A number of the protestors at Friday’s rally said they own small craft breweries. They said the proposal is unfair.

Under HB2038, large brewers will see their excise tax decrease $7.75 per barrel. However, small brewers will see their excise tax increase $12.73 per barrel.

The beer tax is part of a more than $1 billion tax proposal aimed at increasing basic education funding.

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