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Advocates push for alcohol tax before General Assembly

WYPR News in Maryland

By Joel McCord

Despite the heated anti-tax rhetoric from last November’s elections, Vincent DeMarco of the Maryland Citizens Health Initiative is convinced he has the votes for his proposed dime a drink increase in state liquor taxes.

He told a morning news conference today he already has 20 Senators and 64 Delegates signed up to support measure, a week before they arrive in Annapolis for this year’s General assembly session.

“That’s a little bit shy of what we need for a majority. We think we’re going to get that majority. Starting at this point in the session with that much support is tremendous. We believe we are poised to make this happen.”

Not only that, two-thirds of the voters in a recent Opinion Works poll said they would support an increase in the alcohol tax, if the money were dedicated things like alcohol and drug treatment and health care for the uninsured. Pollster Steve Raabe called the response “extremely unusual.”

“We know from our other work that other sorts of tax proposals do not enjoy this kind of support.”

If the tax were to pass it would be the first increase on distilled spirits since the Eisenhower administration and the first on beer and wine since Richard Nixon was president.