SALT LAKE CITY -- A Cache County legislator hopes to raise the tax on beer in an attempt to address the social impact of drinking on the public.
Rep. Jack Draxler, R-North Logan, said he will run a bill to tie a potential tax increase on the cost of beer to the consumer price index. The measure would cap the potential impact to 4 percent. It would also include a delay of one year before implementation.
Draxler said the bill will be heard during interim meetings this month, in hopes it is ready to be aired by the Legislature for the 2014 session. Several legislators use interim meetings, when the Legislature in not in regular session, to bring forth proposals sometimes considered controversial, or which require additional review.
His fight is not new. Draxler ran similar legislation this year, which was voted down in committee. But he has simplified the measure, removing a markup on liquor and wine that was associated with the bill during the 2013 session, and dedicated any new revenues the bill would generate to alcohol prevention programs for youth.
Some Republican leaders have suggested any new tax could face a significant uphill battle in the coming legislative session - an election year - regardless of how or what the additional funding would be targeted to address. The Legislature did not approve a single new tax during the 2013 session.
Draxler admits his biggest challenge may be convincing fellow Republicans the measure is needed. He thinks his simplified measure will be much easier for many lawmakers to put their arms around.
He also expects opposition from the alcohol industry, but said in the end his measure will be a good public relations move for them.
The Cache County Republican also said the idea people will drive out of state to buy beer due to the new tax is also ridiculous. He said the tax will amount to pennies and even a simple drive of 10 miles in Cache County to the Idaho line would cost more in gasoline costs than what the tax increase would be.
Sen. Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, is among those suggesting the possibility of any new taxes is slim at best during the coming 45-day session, which begins in January 2014. Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, has also said passing any new tax is unlikely in the coming session, given the election cycle.