Beer Is Cheaper Today

The beer tax has been reformed, now you can store your handgun in your car and schools can have trained people be armed at school.

A host of new laws take effect today. First, the beer tax.
From the Tennessee Senate:

On Monday July 1, beer tax reform legislation that was overwhelmingly adopted by the General Assembly in April will take effect as a vast array of new laws are enacted. Upon enactment, the Beer Tax Reform Act of 2013 will convert Tennessee’s outdated price-based tax to a volume-based tax, bringing the state in line with neighboring states and modernizing its tax structure. The bill was sponsored by State Representative Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) and State Senator Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown).

“This new law promotes competitiveness and economic opportunity, as well as choice for consumers,” said Senator Brian Kelsey. “Tennessee beer sales have declined 5 percent over the past decade, while the revenues from the wholesale tax climbed to over 30 percent. This demonstrates the punitive nature of this antiquated tax which just doesn’t make sense.”

Under the current law, which was created in the 1950s, Tennessee leads all other states’ beer tax rate by a 12% margin at $37 per barrel. This is more than 4 times the $8.69 rate in Virginia. Other states in the region include $19.13 in North Carolina, $23.96 in Kentucky, $7.51 in Arkansas and $13.23 in Mississippi, $32.65 in Alabama, $1.86 in Missouri and $30.73 in Georgia.

According to Kelsey, the new tax structure will still preserve the current levels of funding that the state’s local governments receive from the tax. The legislation was supported by a coalition consisting of a wide variety of businesses and consumers.

Some facts about Tennessee’s old beer tax system:

• Under the old tax, Tennessee had the highest beer tax in the country, and because it was largely based on price, not volume, it would have continued to keep growing and growing if left unchecked.

•Tennessee’s old beer tax rate used the barrel as its standard rate of measure. A barrel is 31 gallons of beer. That beer can be sold by the can, bottle, case or keg, but as far as the old tax was concerned, the rate was based on the barrel.

•For the past decade, beer sales have declined by five percent in Tennessee, but the local wholesale tax revenues have climbed rapidly, up more than 30 percent.

•Tennessee became the highest beer tax rate in the country in 2008, overtaking Alaska.

•Higher price-point beers were taxed higher, which unfairly penalized Tennessee’s young craft-brewing industry.

But wait. There’s more tax relief:

The $32.8 billion budget for the 2013-2014 fiscal year incorporates approximately $43 million in tax cuts for Tennesseans, building on $50 million in tax relief passed by the legislature in the previous year. The tax reduction legislation effective Monday raises the Hall Income Tax exemption level from $26,200 to $33,000 for single filers and from $37,000 to $59,000 for joint filers, allowing more senior citizens to quality for relief. A second key measure continues reduction of the state sales tax on food by lowering it from 5.25% to 5.0%.

The budget also provides funds to raise the inheritance tax exemption level from $1.25 million to $2 million as authorized by a new law passed by the General Assembly last year. Plus, the package provides tax relief for low income seniors, veterans and the disabled by fully funding the growth of the property tax freeze program sponsored by Norris that was enacted in 2007.

In addition to tax relief, Norris said the 2013-2014 budget reflects a commitment by lawmakers and Governor Haslam to foster an environment for job growth across Tennessee and contains multiple programs to help business owners grow and thrive. The budget includes funding for a key bill sponsored by Norris to create the Labor Education Alignment Program (LEAP). That measure allows students at Tennessee’s technology centers and community colleges to combine occupational training in a high-skill or high-technology industry with academic credit and to apply that experience toward a degree.

Among public safety laws set to take effect on July 1 is a major anti-crime law that will make it easier to prosecute criminal gang activity in Tennessee. The legislation builds on a series of laws sponsored by Norris over the past several years to curb gun-related violence and focus resources on keeping violent criminals in prison longer to protect the public.

Similarly, prosecutors will be given a new weapon in rape cases where the statute of limitations is about to expire under a measure that goes into effect on July 1. The new law, co-sponsored by Norris, allows for a “John Doe” arrest warrant to be obtained using the perpetrator’s DNA profile.

Laws on human trafficking take effect today, too.

“This is a widespread problem in Tennessee, and is especially disturbing as many victims of human trafficking are children,” said Chairman Kelsey. “The legislation set to take effect on Monday enhances penalties against those who promote or patronize the illegal act, gives more rights to human trafficking victims, updates our laws to help ensure offenders cannot escape prosecution, and provides that this crime is included in the list of gang-related offenses. It also provides for a Task Force to make sure we are combating the problem.”

Now how about stopping Obamacare next session, plus stopping the Common Core Curriculum and protecting us against obligatory smart meters?

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