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Disability Advocates Are Proponents For Higher Alcohol Tax

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BALTIMORE (WJZ)–The fight over a higher alcohol tax is pitting bar owners and liquor stores against a very vulnerable group.

Suzanne Collins explains if the tax goes up, that money would fund programs for the disabled.

The halls of state government were filled with disabled people Thursday. One man has waited five years for help building a handicapped bathroom. One mother has waited just as long for help to pay for special daycare for her autistic son.

“My son has had lots of gastrointestinal problems, which has required many hospitalizations. He has a feeding tube to help sustain his weight. He has 28 food allergies,” said Pam Talley, of Laurel.

Disabled advocates say the state budget for those services has dropped by millions of dollars over the last three years. Right now 5,300 people are on a waiting list with 1,100 in crisis or soon to be.

Proponents’ pins say “ten cents for a drink makes sense,” but opponents say it will cost much more at the liquor store.

You’ll see a sign opposing an alcohol tax increase outside Wells Liquors in Baltimore. It explains that a bottle of liquor could cost about $4.25 more.

Microbreweries were just one group speaking against the bill.

“I want the owners of the brewery I work at to profit,” said Tom Flores, brewmaster, Brewers Alley. “I want them to prosper because as they prosper my family and I prosper as well. I want to stay employed.”

“Restaurants and the hospitality industry are very vulnerable to price increases,” said Gary Brooks, Barley and Hops Brewery. “And this is just an unfair attack on one industry. If this truly is a Maryland problem then all Maryland should be paying for it.”

Churches were there to speak for the alcohol tax, while local tourism agencies spoke against it.

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