With Revenues Down, Lawmakers Look to Alcohol

The New York Times recognized a new strategy among state and city governments trying to raise revenues during the economic recession: target alcohol. They write: "Since the recession started in earnest in 2008, dozens of states and cities have tinkered with laws that regulate alcohol sales as a way to build up their budgets."

Changes to existing laws have ranged from raising taxes on alcohol to trying to make it available on days it has traditionally not been sold, with a lot of tactics falling in between. According to the Times: "Twelve states have raised taxes on alcohol or changed alcohol laws to increase revenue, including Maryland, which in July pushed the sales tax on alcohol to 9 percent, from 6 percent — the first such increase in 38 years and one that is expected to bring in $85 million a year." And "in November, voters in Atlanta and elsewhere in Georgia will decide whether to repeal colonial-era laws that ban alcohol sales on Sunday."

Some of the changes to laws appear relatively small, yet governments still hope to bring in new revenue. Take Tennessee for example: "People touring the Jack Daniel’s distillery in Lynchburg, Tenn., may finally be able to have a sip now that the state has loosened laws to allow tastings as part of a package of changes intended to attract more alcohol-related business to the state."

And it is not just government hoping to bring in more revenue from changes to alcohol law. In Louisiana, universities are joining the crowd: "Fans of the Louisiana State University Tigers will soon be drinking Bandit Blonde...The university will get royalties of between 6 and 8 percent, said Charles D’Agostino, executive director of the university’s Louisiana Business and Technology Center."

Until the recession, alcohol revenue had been a growing industry; today, "the nation’s states and local governments take in $17 billion year from alcohol taxes."

What does the Times have to say about new developments in alcohol law?
"Drink up, America. The government needs the money."

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