March 19, 2002
Contact: Rep. Galen Fox
Phone: (808) 586-8520


Liquor Tax Bill Needs Hearing, Not Railroad, Say House GOP

House Republicans said today a Senate Bill that would increase Hawaii's already high liquor taxes should not be railroaded to approval, but should like other bills go through the proper channels.

Republicans said SB 2832, SD1, would have serious economic impact on Hawaii's economy, yet is set to bypass the House Economic Development Committee (EDB). The companion House Bill (HB 2573) was referred to EDB, and sending SB 2832 to that committee would be in line with previous action. Republicans believe Democrat leaders are worried their tax increase will not survive a trip to EDB so Democrats gave SB 2832 a single referral to the Finance Committee.

Republicans requested a proper re-referral to EDB in a letter to the Speaker of the House, Calvin Say late this afternoon.

"A similar tax increase never made it past EDB, so Democrats are worried the senate bill will meet the same fate," said Galen Fox, House Republican Leader. "They should have more faith in their own committee."

Republicans said the liquor tax bill would hurt not only consumers, but also small businesses, including restaurants that rely on liquor sales to make a profit. "Right now we have the highest tax on beer and the fourth highest tax on liquor in the nation," said Barbara Marumoto (R-Waialae, Kahala). "The full committee process will allow more discussion of the tax increase's impact on consumers as well as the entire visitor industry. By short cutting it to the Committee on Finance only, Democrats are engineering a tax increase."