N.H. House rejects raising beer tax a dime

Thursday February 7, 2013

CONCORD, N.H. -- New Hampshire beer drinkers won’t have to dig deeper into their pockets for a glass of their favorite brew.

The New Hampshire House voted 308-35 Wednesday against raising the beer tax. The House killed a bill that raised the tax a dime to 40 cents per gallon. The 30-cent tax is paid at the wholesale level.

Rep. Charles Weed, a Keene Democrat, argued in vain for the bill that earmarked the projected $4 million in proceeds for alcohol abuse and prevention treatment. Weed estimated the dime increase when passed through to beer drinkers would be roughly a penny per 12 ounce glass of beer.

A state law currently requires a portion of the profits on liquor sales go toward treatment, but lawmakers have been diverting the money to other state spending for years.

Weed said the money his bill would have raised was small, but would begin to help people with alcohol problems.

Opponents said raising the tax would hurt small businesses, including small breweries that are growing in the state.

Rep. Norm Major, R-Plaistow, said the tax increase would jeopardize that growth.

Rep. Thomas Schambert, D-Wilmont, said convenience stores on the border would be hurt. He noted that Massachusetts’ tax is 11 cents. If New Hampshire raised its tax to 40 cents, it would be the highest in New England, he added.

Gov. Maggie Hassan had promised to veto the bill if it had reached her desk.


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