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We Build Alaska

Why I’m voting against the proposed Anchorage Alcohol Tax

My name is Darwin Biwer. I have been the owner of Darwin’s Theory since it’s beginning in 1981. I am writing about the Anchorage Assembly’s proposed Alcohol Tax because there are only a few days left before the election deadline and some people are still undecided on how to vote. Here are the real results if the proposition passes.

Proposition #9 is a sham. Also, it’s not about the price of drinks. It’s a money-grabbing attempt to fund Anchorage’s government excesses. If you haven’t voted yet, or are on the cusp of not knowing how to vote, please take a few minutes to read my breakdown of the proposition. Compare my wording to the actual wording on your ballot. It’s word for word.

There are four provisions in the Alcohol Tax Proposal that the Assembly doesn’t want you to know about what the passage would do:

1) This is a 5% initial tax. On page 2, Section 14.07(d) states in part, “The assembly shall enact (not, may enact) such additional provisions…as necessary or desirable…”

This language mandates that the Assembly can raise alcohol taxes as often and as high as they wish, anytime it needs more spending money. Basically a blank check! Conceivably, they could tax the industry out of business.

2) Sections 14.7(b) and 14.7(c) state the Alcohol Tax monies are dedicated to:

– Administration, collection and audit of the tax
– Support securing or repaying (current) obligations
– Public safety
– Abatement of prohibited campsites
– Alcohol and substance misuse prevention
– Community behavioral health programs
– Homelessness prevention and response

This language allows the Assembly to pay for past debts before paying for the dedicated purposes as they advertise. Public safety can mean anything relative to police activities. Another blank check to help bail out the Municipality. There are only 532 liquor licensees in the Municipality. Some are small operators that will be hurt financially. Not that much tax revenue can be generated. Going down the above list, there won’t be much money left for the needy.

3) The Alcohol tax will be on …all retail sales of alcoholic beverages… Traditionally, alcohol taxes have been applied at the wholesale level, and then passed on to each liquor licensee. This tax being applied at the retail level means each liquor licensee, no matter how big, must furnish details about sales of alcohol. Consequently, each licensee, down to each mom and pop establishment, must gear up for computers, programs, experts or other means to capture the required information.

Even worse, this tax will allow the city government access to the entire financial activities of a alcohol retailers. No business owner in any industry would want this to be allowed. A wholesale tax is just as effective, but less punitive and cumbersome to the industry. No doubt the Assembly is doing this to intentionally penalize the industry.

4) The number of votes need to pass this Alcohol Tax Proposal would normally be 60% of the qualified voters, as in other Assembly proposals. This proposal changes the Municipal Charter relating to the Alcohol Tax Proposal (14.05 and 14.07) to 50% +1. A much easier number of voters needed to pass this tax. If this tax is such a good idea, why does it need to be made easier to pass? This proposal has many open ended or “blank checks” that will be newly accessible to the Assembly, which are not currently available.

Again, my opposition to this Ballot Proposition is not about the price of drinks. I would happily pay to help the homeless, the chronic inebriates, and the mentally ill. However, as you can see, funds collected by this proposition would be dedicated by the administration to numerous other causes. Those will use up the funds and leave little left for the homeless and others. We’ve been misled before!

Because alcohol is cheaper if purchased from a liquor store, passage of Proposition #9 will encourage drinking outside of a licensed premise. Domestic violence will increase because there is no CHARR trained personnel present. Domestic violence takes many forms between many different persons. The Municipality doesn’t want this unintended consequence to be known.

There are only a few days left before the April 2nd election deadline. You can return your ballot by placing it in a Secure Drop Box, returning it to an Accessible Vote Center, or by mailing it through the U.S. Postal Service.

Darwin Biwer grew up in Salem, Oregon. He moved to Alaska in 1966 after graduating college. He worked for the Department of Fish and Game for 15 years. He opened the popular Downtown Anchorage bar, Darwin’s Theory, in 1981.


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Peter Faulk
4 years ago

#soberworldorg the temptation to increase taxation on addictive inelastic demand items is great. The problem is that the soft cost of alcohol far outweigh any tax benefit almost 20 to 1. For every $1 in tax revenue there are well over $10 in soft costs to society. The financial impact is a small portion of the total harm to culture, people. All states would benefit tremendously by encouraging less self-medication less self harm with drugs legal or illegal.

Henk Veratasium
4 years ago

It’s not that hard to see how this article is a completely biased piece of shit. Alcohol is poison and usage should be discouraged. Yes, the industry will suffer, but the people will thrive. Get over it.

Fart Chance
4 years ago

*yaaaawwwwwn* another old white guy complaining about “government excesses”
Get some better content Jeff.