By STEELE HAUGEN
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
Lawmakers in Salem Tuesday introduced a bill that would increase beer and cider tax by almost 3,000% and the wine tax by nearly 2,000% percent.
The bill would send that money to addiction recovery programs and help reduce underage and binge drinking.
Those involved in one of Central Oregon’s key industries worry it’ll do much more than that.
“We obviously want to support alcohol and drug rehabilitation centers; we do not see this as a correct avenue to do it,” said Avid Cider Manager Lou Crooks.
“Cideries alone will be increased so much that you are going to see a lot of your favorites go down,” Crooks said. “There is no way anyone can withstand this tax increase.”
She believes the impacts of the bill would ripple through the town.
“They don’t just come here to ski and golf and float the river,” Crooks added “They come here to drink, so when they are coming here and our craft is all about bringing in tourism, we are going to shy a lot of that away.”
The winery tax increase would be 1,700%.
Cider companies and breweries like Silver Moon would see a tax increase of 2,800%.
“If you take a brewery like Silver Moon or Crux or Cascade Lakes, any of us that brew anywhere from 8,000-12,000 barrels, it adds up to significant dollars,” said co-owner of Silver Moon Brewing Matt Barrett.
Barrett says the timing could not be worse.
“As a state, we are struggling to get our business back on track and come through this COVID and survive and create jobs,” Barrett said. “To put that kind of burden on a small business just makes absolutely no sense.”
At Avid Cider, Crooks says the bill would force them to increase the price of a six-pack of cider from $12 to $15.
“It’s such a family-owned and operated market here in Oregon … Don’t tax my drink,” Crooks said.
If approved, the bill would go into effect in January 2022.