17 March 2009

Stupid Amateur "Irish" Idiocy Day--but news nonetheless

So I'm drinking green-tea ginger ale with a wedge of lime. Is that green enough for you? Sorry, first I come down with a nasty bout of flu moments after leaving work Friday, ruining my weekend, then my wife catches it from me, leaving me to nurse and feed her until this evening.

But we have some late-breaking news of various sorts, for quick updates:

*The Maryland Legislature is examining raising alcohol taxes in the People's Democratic Republic of Maryland. More action this week--or not. Last time I went to Annapolis to cover a booze-legislation story, the legislation was withdrawn before it could be acted upon:

On Wed. 3/18 at 1:00 Maryland Senate Budget and Taxation committee in Annapolis will have a hearing on senate bill 729 which proposes the following alcoholic beverage tax increases:

Increasing the State tax rates for alcoholic beverages sold in Maryland from $1.50 to $6.00 per gallon for distilled spirits, from 40 cents to $1.60 per gallon for wine, and from 9 cents to 36 cents per gallon for beer; providing for the distribution of the additional revenue to special funds to be used only for the purpose of providing additional funding for specified services; etc.

see http://mlis.state.md.us/2009rs/billfile/SB0729.htm

On Thurs. 3/19 the Maryland House Ways and Mans committee will have a hearing on its version of the bill (number 791) at 1:00PM.

Comments: "Del. William A. Bronrott, a Montgomery County Democrat, said his proposal to raise the tax by 5 cents per drink would generate as much as $80 million each year to be used in part help as many as 1,000 of 19,000 people on a waiting list for disabilities assistance and others awaiting addiction treatment." And if you sincerely believe that's where the monies will go, I have some snake oil in the trunk of my car that will cure your every ailment, as well as title to a lucrative bridge in New York City which I'm letting go cheap. Seldom have I seen a more naked "won't someone think of the children?!?" appeal, and even if Bronrott's heart and intentions are pure, I'm still rooting for the alcohol lobbyists on this one.

Which is pathetic, in a way. I'm not opposed to ALL taxes, just punitive, regressive, and unnecessary ones. And if one looks at the numbers, strictly from inflation adjustment and keeping up with the times, alcohol taxes in Maryland, as with Federal gas taxes, are long overdue for gentle, incremental increases to keep up with reality rather than inflation. But does anyone trust Maryland's legislators to practice such restraint? Show of hands/comments?

*Meanwhile, it will soon be last call for booze at Maryland's state parks:

Drinking without a $35 group permit will be banned March 31 in day-use areas and Nov. 1 in campgrounds and shelters, the Department of Natural Resources said today. After that, consuming alcohol anywhere in the 65 parks except in full-service cabins, recreational vehicles or at the Rocky Gap Lodge will be outlawed and punishable by a $55 fine.
I can get behind this. It would never cross my mind to drink booze at a state (or any) park unless I was in a private, secluded area away from others. Frankly, if a homebrew club or the SPBW can't wing a $35 permit, what are they doing holding a beer picnic at someplace like Patapsco State Park (as they've done in the past)? A dollar or less a head? Call it the "corkage fee"!

*For a different "green beer," Metropolitan on Thursday:
This week for Firkin Thursday we will tap a cask of Smuttynose IPA from Smuttynose Brewery in Portsmouth New Hampshire. This firkin is somewhat unique in that it has been more liberally dry-hopped by the brewer than the regular keg and bottle versions. In the Upstairs Bar starting at 6.
Enjoy--I'm supposed to be elsewhere.

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