The Union Leader reported Wednesday that the New Hampshire House of Representatives resoundingly killed a proposed beer tax increase by a vote of 308-35.
New Hampshire brewers, who adamantly opposed the legislation, were pleased with the final tally. "We're very happy to see New Hampshire's legislature make a great decision that will continue to see growth in Granite State's craft breweries and our business partners," said John Thompson, who serves as the minister of propaganda for Smuttynose Brewing Co. in Portsmouth.
Rep. Charles Weed, D-Keene, one of the bill's co-sponsors, said he fully expected the legislation would meet with that fate after it had already been rejected by the House Ways and Committee by a margin of 14-2 in January. But Weed vowed to bring back another proposed beer tax hike bill in the next legislative session.
“Even though it doesn’t have a chance, it’s important for the education process,” said Weed. He hopes that by bringing back a similar bill each year, his fellow lawmakers will become more educated about the need to give state alcohol and substance abuse prevention programs more financial support so they can help more people.
Overall, Weed said he was not pleased that House Bill 168, which was co-sponsored by Rep. Richard Eaton, D-Greenville, was so widely rejected. “I was disappointed in that I think there was substantial distortion and a lack of understanding," he said.
He said the arguments made by New Hampshire brewers and business trade groups when the bill was first aired before the House Ways and Means Committee on Jan. 23 that raising the state beer tax by 10 cents per gallon would make the state uncompetitive with other New England states was “knee jerk.” Weed maintained the proposed beer tax increase amounted to $1.25 per six pack of beer.
“As long as I’m here, I am going to try to keep bringing it up,” said Weed, who is serving his 13th term in the state Legislature.