The Senate Monday night approved, 30-1, legislation that will switch Tennessee’s wholesale beer tax to a levy on volume rather than on price.
The current system has left Tennessee with the highest beer tax in the nation, according to the Tennessee Malt Beverage Association, which has been pushing SB422 by Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown.
The state’s present 17 percent wholesale beer tax amounts to about $37 per 31-gallon barrel and has increased 30 percent over the past ten years as beer prices have risen.
The bill effectively freezes the tax at current levels, avoiding future increases as prices rise.
“This bill will increase jobs in the brewing industry and help consumers by leading to a better selection at lower prices,” Kelsey told colleagues.
Who said the “traditionally we have taxed things in Tennessee based on their sales price” and questioned why beer should be treated differently.
Kelsey noted that beer is also subject to the state sales tax, which will continue to rise as beer prices increase, and said the legislation is needed to make Tennessee more competitive with other states in recruiting breweries.
He said the present system is particularly hard on microbreweries, which typically sell their brew at higher prices because of low volume. The tax now makes their products even more expensive, he said.
Campfield abstained on the final vote. The sole no vote was cast by Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mount Juliet.
The bill is up for a House floor vote on Wednesday.
Democrats’ contentions that Senate Republicans had slipped “pork barrel” projects into the state budget derailed plans for passage of the $31 billion plan Wednesday after House Republicans at least partially agreed with them.
The House Finance Committee voted to strip $1.5 million in Senate-approved spending amendments from the budget – including $300,000 for Knoxville’s E.M. Jellinek Center – after a two-hour, closed-door GOP conference triggered by House Speaker Emeritus Jimmy Naifeh, D-Covington.
Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey responded by saying House leaders had broken a deal. In effect, Some House members said the same thing of the senators for their action in adding the questioned spending.
Apparently, Transportation Commissioner John Schroer is getting an earful as well as an eyeful in his “Orange Barrel Tour” of highway and bridge construction projects around the state, judging by Jim Balloch’s report on Thursday’s TDOT travels. An excerptL Schroer’s brief visit to the downtown Knoxville project Thursday was just one of many stops on TDOT’s latest tour of major construction projects and sites of planned projects in East Tennessee.
Schroer and other TDOT officials have been traveling around the region in a bus, getting a first hand look — and affording local officials and residents a chance to talk to him about whatever projects were on their minds.
The Henley project also is the site of a pair of tragedies — the deaths of two workers in separate accidents on the bridge. Following the accidents, all projects by the contractor were temporarily suspended for a safety review, then resumed.
“While we are confident that all of the necessary safety precautions are in place and TDOT is continuing to closely monitor this work site, we realize this line of work can be dangerous,” Schroer said.
The project is scheduled for completion in 2013.
“Work is continuing at a steady pace,” Schroer said. “We look forward to its completion, which will bring a newer, safer bridge to Tennessee travelers.”
Schroer’s other stops on Thursday included Sevier, Blount and Campbell counties.
In Knoxville, he also visited the intersection of Tazewell Pike and Emory Road, and Maynardville Highway from Temple Acres to the Union County line, the Interstate 640/North Broadway interchange, and Tazewell Pike from Baum Road to north of McCamey Road.
Officials and residents alike have taken advantage of the tours to speak with Schroer or other TDOT officials about projects under way or planned for the future.
Schroer said the most common question asked is, “When are you going to start?”
In Greeneville, he said, about 40 people asked him about the proposed Greeneville Bypass around U.S. 11-E. “And that is probably 10 years away,” he said.
In Sevier County, he met with homeowners whose houses are in the path a project, according to the original design plan, Schroer said.
“I don’t know if we can (save their homes), but I gave my word that we would look at it and take it into consideration,” he said.
State Reps. Bill Dunn, and Harry Brooks, both Knoxville Republicans, caught up with Schroer.
Dunn said, “I brought my maps to plead my case” for improvements in the Emory Road area. “And when I noticed (the bus was) not scheduled to get on Emory Road, I got them to divert their path, so they could see the desperate needs of the Powell community. The problem is really self evident.”
Dunn said he was assured that construction of a new, wider road, to parallel Emory Road between Gill Road and Clinton Highway, remains scheduled to begin in the spring
A lawmaker from south central Tennessee says he’ll sponsor a bill next year to tax the barrels used to make Jack Daniel’s whiskey. For tiny Moore County, five million dollars are at stake. reports WPLN. A new opinion from the state Attorney General forced the hand of state Representative Dave Alexander of Winchester. It says that, Yes, you probably could tax the barrels that whiskey-makers use.
Alexander says he will seek the new tax that the Moore County Commission voted to pursue.
But the freshman Republican says it was a hard decision, given that he was elected on a platform of what he calls “basic conservative principles.”
“One of those principles being low taxes, or certainly no more taxes, if possible. And here we’re talking about some people that say they want a tax. And on the other hand, you’ve got their right of self-determination. They have that right.”
The question would go to county voters as a referendum. If passed, the tax would affect the Jack Daniel’s Distillery, literally the only manufacturer in the cash-strapped county.
The tax wouldn’t be on whiskey, exactly. It would be on the barrels that the whiskey is aged in. The barrel would become taxable – when they pour the whiskey in it.