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Proposed bill creating addiction recovery fund amended to create Task Force on Substance Use


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    PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) — A bill that proposed a significant tax increase on wine products and beer manufacturers is now being amended to include all players in creating legislation to address funding for addiction services.

The Addiction Crisis Recovery Act would have raised taxes on beer and wine producers to fund addiction recovery services.

“The only way to tax beer and wine to bring the retail price up 20% with the goal of then reducing harmful consumption by 10% was to put it at the manufacturer level,” Mike Marshall, executive director for Oregon Recovers, said.

The tax on beer and cider would have spiked nearly 2,800% from $2.60 a barrel to $72.60. For wine, the increase would be a jump from 65 cents per gallon to $10.65.

Opponents like Christina LaRue, the executive director for the Oregon Brewers Guild, said. At the same time, they understand the need for funding addiction services. Any tax hike could be detrimental to the industry.

“A tax increase would, especially right now, with businesses that are just trying to keep their head above water as the state reopens. A tax increase could close their doors,” LaRue said.

At the moment, LaRue said the originally proposed tax is off the table. House Bill 3377, drafted initially to create the Addiction Crisis Recovery Fund, is being amended to create The Task Force on Substance Use.

This group will be made up of several players, including health officials, addiction treatment providers, and a representative from the alcohol manufacturing industry.

“Number one, reduce underage drinking by 25% and binge drinking by 20% using pricing and taxation,” Marshall said. “Then, the other thing they have to address is fully funding the strategic plan, the system of care, designed by the state over the last two years.”

LaRue said the guild wants more discussions before jumping straight to a tax increase.

“Before you increase our taxes, let’s take a look at the current funding the state gets from excise taxes,” she said. “Only 3 to 3.5% of those dollars are actually going to those services. The rest is going to the general fund. Figure out if there’s a way to move more money first.”

Now HB 3377 will be taken up in a work session to address the amendment on Monday.

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