AUGUSTA – A bill in the state legislature could raise the tax on alcohol to try and decrease the rate of suicide and domestic violence.
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Barbara Cardone, D – Bangor, said scientific research published in the magazine Scientific American has found an increase in the alcohol tax decreases violent assault and gun suicides.
If passed, the bill would increase excise taxes on spirits, malt liquor, fortified wines, and hard cider, and also raise the sales tax on alcohol.
But some local beverage distributors said the bill is terrible planning for businesses and for consumers.
“We want people to know that there cannot be another tax increase – an increase that will turn into a tax on everyday people that want to go out to eat, or drink, have a beer,” said Jasper Walsh, a craft beer manager at Maine Distributors out of Bangor.
Those against the bill testified at a public hearing Thursday.
Rep. Cardone testified that according to her review an increase has not occurred in several years, and that, “in light of this scientific proof of the link between an increase in the alcohol tax and the decrease in violent assaults and gun suicides, we owe it to Maine residents to look at an alcohol tax increase.”