ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ)—Your next beer is likely going to cost you more money. Maryland lawmakers are moving closer to approving higher taxes on alcoholic drinks.

Kai Jackson explains why some say the tax is necessary.

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An increase in Maryland’s alcohol tax isn’t a done deal, but those keeping score say it’s pretty close.

Food may fill your stomach, but alcohol sales in many bars and restaurants pay the bills for business owners.

When asked if she thought about an alcohol tax when she comes into a bar, Lachele Kellam Ervin said: “At this point, no. But since it was in the news, we discussed it.”

Drinkers across the state of Maryland may soon see their favorite beer, wine or alcohol cost more.

The legislature is debating an alcohol tax.  Right now it’s 6 percent. But a bill in the Senate proposes raising it 3 percent, phased in one percent a year until it reaches 9 percent.

Under the plan, it won’t be wholesalers, but drinkers that will pay for it in the end.

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Business owners say they are concerned about any new tax that could potentially drive customers away.

“A lot of our guests we’ve lost with the economy. So of course with the taxes going up and if it affects the alcohol price, I’m sure they’re going to be that much less likely to come out and enjoy their time here,” said Carly Nascimbeni, Field House general manager.

The state estimates that the tax will raise about $88 million.

Vincent DeMarco with the Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative hopes the money will go to health care, but says at a minimum raising the tax would save lives.

“In state after state where alcohol tax has gone up, there’s been less underage drinking, less alcohol abuse,” said DeMarco.

“The very thing that you’re trying to cure, you may be hurting,” said Don Ervin, East Baltimore.

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The measure is expected to go in front of the full Senate for a vote.