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N.H. House rejects raising beer tax a dime

CONCORD, N.H. — New Hampshire beer drinkers will not have to dig deeper into their pockets for a glass of their ­favorite brew.

The New Hampshire House voted 308 to 35 Wednesday against raising the beer tax. The House killed a bill that raised the tax a dime to 40 cents per gallon. The 30-cent tax is paid at the wholesale level.

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Representative Charles Weed, a Keene Democrat, ­argued in vain for the bill that earmarked the projected $4 million in proceeds for alcohol abuse and prevention treatment. Weed estimated that the dime increase when passed through to beer drinkers would be roughly a penny per 12 ounce glass of beer.

A state law currently requires that a portion of the profits on liquor sales go toward treatment, but lawmakers have diverted the money to ­other state spending for years.

Weed said the money his bill would have raised was small, but would help people with ­alcohol problems.

Opponents said raising the tax would hurt small businesses, including small breweries.

Representative Norm Major, Republican of Plaistow, said the tax increase would jeopardize that growth.

Representative Thomas Schambert, Democrat of Wilmont, said convenience stores on the border would be hurt. He noted that the Massachusetts tax is 11 cents. If New Hampshire raised its tax to 40 cents, it would be the highest in New England, he added.

Governor Maggie Hassan had promised to veto the bill if it had reached her desk.

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