Bill would alter definition of flavored malt beverage

A bill to tax flavored malt beverages as beer advanced from general file March 15.

LB824, introduced by Wilber Sen. Russ Karpisek, would ensure that flavored malt beverages would be taxed at the same rate as beer rather than the higher hard liquor rate. Karpisek said the current definitions used today were written before flavored malt beverages became popular.

“It’s time to update the Liquor Control Act by updating this antiquated definition,” he said.

A General Affairs Committee amendment incorporated provisions of LB781, a bill originally introduced by Papillion Sen. Jim Smith. The amendment, adopted 40-0, would change the trigger date for payment of state excise tax to align with the federal trigger date. State excise tax would be levied when the product is shipped from its bonded location.

A Karpisek amendment to the committee amendment, adopted 35-0, would place restrictions on the amount of alcohol in a flavored malt beverage that could be derived from flavorings or distilled alcohol. Under the amendment, a malt beverage with more than 6 percent of alcohol by volume may not contain more than 1.5 percent of alcohol by volume derived from flavoring.

A second Karpisek amendment, adopted 31-0, clarified the definition of spirits for the purpose of taxing alcohol.

Ellsworth Sen. LeRoy Louden introduced an amendment that would have allowed the Liquor Control Commission to limit the sale of alcohol for consumption off the premises of a business based on alcohol content, manufacturing process or price. The amendment failed on a 12-14 vote.

Senators advanced the bill to select file on a 27-7 vote.

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