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Lawmakers Debate Potential Beer Tax Increase

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Maureen Wurtz

OMAHA (KPTM)-Nebraskans could be saying bottoms up to a tax increase on beer.

That's what Nebraska senators are debating this session.

Five years ago the timing was right for Kim and Paul Kavulak  to start Nebraska Brewing Company. "My husband brewed at home for about 18 years," said Kim.

The Kavulak's sell their beer all over the United States. "We distribute in about 11 states, and last count, we have about 18 distributors in those states."

Lawmakers want to increase taxes on beer by five cents a gallon. "As a small brewer, that's pretty significant," said Kavulak.

Kavulak said she pays about nine dollars a barrel in taxes.  The raise would leave them paying closer to eleven dollars a barrel.

"It's a lot for a brewery like us," said Kim.

Nebraska is in the top twenty states with the highest tax on beer.

"It would me potentially not hiring additional positions," said Kim.

Lawmakers said the tax could bring in about 2.3 million dollars over two years. That money would be used to help law enforcement crack down on alcohol related crimes. "Alcohol taxes are just really a key piece in reducing excessive alcohol consumption," said Nicole Carritt with ‘Project Extra Mile.'

Kim said the responsibility for limiting alcohol consumption should be in-house. "Each bar owner, brewery owner, everybody has to be responsible for running your own business."

Kavulak worried that business in Lincoln may make her business in Papillion go flat.

 The bill is currently in committee.  If the bill makes it through, it'll be up for debate.

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