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Oregon liquor bottle surcharge may double

An assortment of liquor, which could see higher taxes soon in Oregon.
Edward Howell
An assortment of liquor, which could see higher taxes soon in Oregon.

Slightly higher prices could be hitting Oregon’s liquor shelves.

The Oregon Liquor And Cannabis Commission has imposed a surcharge of fifty cents a bottle for hard alcohol since 2009. A budget proposal from Gov. Tina Kotek would double that to $1 a bottle, with proceeds going into the Oregon general fund and behavioral health and addiction services.

Testimony at OLCC meetings has been divided; distilleries said production costs are already high.

“We’re taking hits everywhere,” said David Ballew, the President and CEO of Hood River Distillers. “Historically high ingredients, supply chain issues, employee shortages, recovery from the pandemic, inflation. And now we’re dealing with the prospect of an additional fifty cents per bottle surcharge that’s looming over us.”

But supporters of a higher surcharge said it could help lower the rates of underage drinking and binge drinking. Mike Marshall is the Executive Director of Oregon Recovers.

“Don’t look at it from a revenue perspective, but from a prevention and public health perspective," Marshall said. "Moderate drinkers are not price sensitive. The folks that are the most price sensitive are underage drinkers, and excessive drinkers, binge drinkers.”

The OLCC will hear more testimony at its May and June meetings before taking a vote on the proposal.

Jasmine Lewin was a freelance reporter in 2022 and 2023. Originally from Portland, Oregon, Lewin wrote for the University of Oregon quarterly magazine Ethos before graduating with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.
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