[WA State Craft Brewery Tax] Must Be Stopped!

So I needed to resurrect the blog for this one, because the word definitely has to get out there.  I know a fair number of our (admittedly imaginary) readers are big craft brew fans (and a few of us are aspiring brewmasters and brewery owners as well), so I felt it was relevant.  Here’s the rundown:

Governor Jay Inslee announced last week that he has a new goal of expanding funding for early childhood education in the state.  Good.  Great.  Grand.  Wonderful.  Nobody can fault him for that, especially since our school systems have taken a significant hit in the budget-slashing that Olympia has been practicing lately.  However…the money has to come from somewhere, right?  This is where the [Must Be Stopped!] comes into play.  The Governor has proposed “expanding & extending” the 2010 state excise tax on craft breweries that was shoehorned in at the end of the session, behind closed doors and without a public hearing.  The main gist of the law enacted in 2010 was that the craft brewing industry was subject to a new, temporary tax to help balance the state budget during the recession.  There is a clause in the law that exempts breweries that produce less than 60,000 barrels per year, which basically means everyone in the state with the exception of Redhook Brewing Co.  Governor Inslee’s new proposal would make the taxes enacted under RCW 66.24.290 permanent and remove the exemption for breweries under 60K barrels.  So the politicians are spinning like it’s not a new tax (just an “expansion & extension”), but try telling that to the Elk Head Brewery (if you do, watch out for that shillelagh!), Diamond Knot, Elysian, Skagit River Brewery, Airways Brewing, and a whole host of other, excellent craft brewers that aren’t currently paying the tax.  I won’t go into all the reason why this is a terrible idea here, but I did write a letter to the state Senator and the two House Representatives for my district that goes into more detail and which I’ll include below.  Please, if you care at all about this issue, write your legislators and tell them how you feel!  Feel free to copy my letter if you’re disinclined to write one yourself, or plagiarize freely while writing your own, or whatever…just send something!

For more information on the tax and for further ways you may be able to help, check these links here and here.

Here’s my letter:

Dear Senator Eide,

 I am taking the time to write you this letter to inform you of my displeasure with Governor Inslee’s proposed “extension & expansion” of the 2010 state excise tax on craft breweries (Senate Bill 5039).  The tax unfairly increases the operating costs of an already highly-taxed industry, and has the potential to drive important business out-of-state, at the expense of our economy and hard-working citizens.  I understand that the legislature is looking for ways to balance the budget, and while I respect Governor Inslee’s goals of increasing early education resources, there must be better, more balanced ways to accomplish this.  I urge you to please vote a resounding “No” on any bill presented to the State Senate that would increase taxes on our burgeoning craft brewing industry.

            The Washington craft brewing industry is one of the most diverse and exciting industries in the state & country.  As an aspiring small business owner and avid home brewer, I’m currently in the process of building a business model to start my own “nano-brewery” with some friends in an attempt to turn a hobby into a sustainable career.  The expansion of the state excise tax (specifically the omission of the greater-than 60,000 barrels clause in the current law) would greatly increase the operating costs and reduce the profits in an already low-profit-margin industry.  This tax could mean the difference between another self-starting entrepreneur adding a healthy business to the state economy, or never getting the business off the ground.  Particularly alarming is the proposed elimination of the exemption for breweries producing less than 60,000 barrels per year.  This would hit every brewery in the state, with the exception of Redhook, with a tax that they were previously not paying – hardly an “extension of an existing tax” in their eyes, and a difficult burden for small businesses to bear.  In an economy that is still struggling to recover from recession, a tax such as this can and will cause existing small breweries to go out of business, increasing the unemployment rate and taking much-needed capital out of our local economy.

            The current state excise tax on the brewing industry is already one of the highest in the nation, and any increase is sure to cripple what has the potential to become a vibrant and thriving industry and one that brings much needed capital into the state.  As the law stands, craft brewers are paying a little over $8 per barrel produced, which is already more than three times higher than our closest neighbor and biggest rival in the craft brewing industry, the state of Oregon.  With the proposed increase bringing the tax per barrel to almost $24, our local breweries will be severely handicapped in the marketplace and unable to compete with the millions of comparatively low-cost barrels crossing our southern border and undercutting prices.  Our breweries will either have to increase their prices (and effectively price themselves out of the market), or they will have to absorb the cost themselves at the expense of their already low profit margins.  This latter would mean cutting costs elsewhere, which usually comes in the form of layoffs, reductions of employee pay & benefits, and other detrimental actions that could turn an industry of hard-working, happy professionals into one of disgruntled, underpaid, and overworked laborers – much the way competition from Asia adversely affected the American automotive industry in the ‘70s and ‘80s.  If the Governor’s proposal is enacted into law, it will drive businesses out-of-state, and if more and more breweries leave, he will have to find his tax dollars for education elsewhere anyway.  Seems like a no-win situation.  There must be a better way.

            My final point of concern is with the way in which the original 2010 bill was passed, and the timing and presentation of Governor Inslee’s plans to expand the tax and make it permanent.  The fact that the bill was passed in 2010 “behind closed doors” and without public hearings makes it seem like the legislature has little regard for the industry and was attempting to “pull the wool over the eyes” of business owners, brewery professionals and employees, and beer-lovers all over the state.  I understand that when faced with a recession, hard choices must be made to balance the budget, but actively targeting a growing industry because it looks like “easy money” will only serve to handicap the industry in the long run.  Furthermore, the fact that the Governor made his proposal last week while a large part of the industry professionals were attending the Craft Brewing Conference in Washington, D.C. further supports the idea that at least a portion of our elected officials feel they can hoodwink the public by passing a bill into law before any momentum can build to oppose it.  Also, the way the governor attempted to spin the issue by linking it to a completely unrelated one is unconscionable, and just another example of certain (though certainly not all) politicians manipulating our beliefs and emotions to get what they want.  In other words, by increasing and expanding the tax on the brewing industry and using that money to fund early education, he’s effectively created a no-win situation for those of us who support early education but oppose the tax, with the idea that our views on education will trump our support for the brewing industry and force our hand.  The creation of an either/or scenario with these two completely unrelated issues (you either support education or – if you oppose the tax on breweries – you don’t) borders on coercion.  These are hardly the actions of a governing body that is proud of its actions and believes in governmental transparency.  I certainly understand that being a public official must be a difficult and often thankless job, but an approach such as this only serves to further alienate the public from our elected government when we should all be coming together in mutual support and cooperation.

            In closing, let me again urge you to vote “No” on any form of this proposal that is presented to the Senate.  In the interest of not sounding petty, I won’t say that anyone who approves the Governor’s proposed tax increase on breweries will never get my vote, but I can think of some people who would say that, and at any rate I’m sure you understand better than I do the consequences of having constituents who are unhappy with your decisions.  While Governor Inslee’s motives are honorable, I hope you understand why I cannot approve of his methods.  I personally feel that this proposal will only serve to handicap an industry that has done much to bring notoriety, prestige, and much-needed capital to our wonderful state.  I appreciate your time and attention to this matter, as well as everything you do in service of the State of Washington and its citizens.  Thank you, Senator.

Sincerely,

Jon Chouinard

etc., etc….

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Some thoughts on Ichiro

Ichiro asked to be traded after our worthless, marketing driven, ignorant, clueless owners attempted to sign him to an extension.

Ichiro is 38 years old.

People who claim the “mean Seattle media, and fans” ran Ichiro out of town can fuck right the fuck off. Only in this pansy city are your feelings more important than winning, running a business and progressing as a team.

You can still be proud to call Ichiro a Mariner and be happy to see him move on at the same time.

Howard and Chuck have said otherwise but I’m convinced this team will be sold in the next two years.

Stop trying to overreact to everything that happens. Just sit back and enjoy the homestead vs the Yankees and remember the 2001 season for what it was. Our last winning team.

Jonesy’s Random Movie Review #1

I’m hoping that this new segment is both entertaining and intriguing enough to bring back volume to the Thirdand7 family. It’s proven to be a little more difficult than I imagined to keep content flowing, but I’m hoping to make this a weekly edition.

For Christmas in 2010 I received Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide, where he provides reviews and ratings on more than 17,000 movies. Now the fact that this man has seen 17,000 movies is amazing itself. I’m going to randomly select a movie from his collection and provide my own review (if I’ve seen it of course). Today’s Entry:

Bubba Ho-Tep: (2002) Starring: Bruce Campbell and Ossie Davis
Chances are you probably have never even heard of this movie. Chances are you’d also never think about watching this movie. It’s a B Movie to the fullest. The plot is hokey, the stars are C-List to most people, and there was little to no promotion from the studio. To a film buff, Bruce Campbell is a God. He is THE greatest cult actor of all time, starring in The Evil Dead Trilogy and numerous other low-budget movies and TV shows. In Bubba Ho-Tep, Bruce stars as an elderly Elvis Presley who has been hiding in an old folks home for years. His only friend is John F. Kennedy (Ossie Smith), a black man who claims to be the murdered President; as part of the cover up, the government died him brown. As you can tell from that setup, this movie is not playing in the realm of reality.

Here’s the best part: while living at the old folks home, people start dying, which to the normal person does not appear to be a big deal as most residents are on their deathbed. But to Elvis and JFK, they notice that the deaths are not what they appear to be; they are in fact murder. The duo discover that an ancient mummy has been resurrected from the nearby museum and has stumbled upon the retirement community. Elvis and JFK are the only two people who can stop the mummy and put an end to it’s murderous ways.

The movie is hokey beyond belief, but it’s the rapport of Campbell and Davis that saves the film. With other actors, the characters could have simply been thrown up on the screen in a slapstick way. Campbell fully embodies Elvis and breathes humor and honesty into his role. Davis is so convincing as JFK, that you actually believe his story of being the tortured President. In the end, you are right by their side, rooting for them to pull off the impossible.

Leonard Maltin’s Grade: B
Jonesy’s Grade: C+

The 7: Only Remaining Movies You Need to Spend $10 a Ticket to See in Theaters This Year

  1. Ted (June 29th)- Get your friends together, go hit Applebee’s for Happy Hour and wander over to the Regal Cinemas for a night of raunchy comedy. Marky Mark and Peter Griffin the Bear should make for a hilarious combination.
  2. The Amazing Spider-Man (July 3rd)- I’ll be the first to admit, I was part of the group of people that couldn’t fathom rebooting a franchise fresh off it’s last outing in 2007. However, the revived storyline and stellar trailers have made me a believer and put me in line for opening weekend.
  3. The Dark Knight Rises (July 20th)- The. Must. See. Film. Of. 2012. Nuff Said.
  4. The Bourne Legacy (August 3rd)- No Matt Damon? No Problem. Jeremy Renner is the new badass action guy on the block. Quick sidenote; this is not a spinoff, this film takes place during The Bourne Ultimatum.
  5. Skyfall (November 9th)- Bond Is Back. Daniel Craig returns for his third outing as 007, this time with a Top Secret plot that not even the fanboys know about.
  6. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (December 14th)- Are you ready to return to Middle Earth? No? Are you not a nerdy film geek who saw all three Lord of the Rings films at Midnight shows?
  7. Django Unchained (December 25th)- I’m not a hipster who enjoys Quentin Tarantino’s just because it’s cool; well, maybe with Jackie Brown. But Django looks like the right kind of film to make me forget the disaster that was Grindhouse.

Get To Know An Author

I figure I should put more personality into this after the break I took to start my family.  Here’s some random facts about me.  Some are more popular than others.

1)  I don’t like your kid.  I love my kid.  I love my friends’ kids.  I just don’t care for yours.

2)  I’m not a republican or a democrat. I’m pro progress and anti soccer mom.

3)  I am for the new Seattle sports arena.  I can’t find a single tangible reason why anyone would be against it.  I would have cancelled my subscription to the Seattle Times for their stance against it… If I hadn’t already.

4)  My fellow contributors will probably disagree with this but I’m anti union. 

5)  I don’t give a crap about your religion and don’t ask me about mine.  Cool?

6)  107.7 (Local Seattle radio station) needs to quit playing Nirvana and Pearl Jam.  It’s 2012.  I love those bands as much as the next Seattleite but lets move forward. 

7)  The less time you spend in front of the TV the happier you will be.

OKC- You’re Not the Sonics

The thing that sickens me the most is them saying “Oklahoma City heads back to the NBA Finals for the first time since 1996”. Ummm…no? Seattle went to the Finals that year, not OKC. If a team moves from it’s original city and changes everything about the franchise, they no longer have rights to the previous feats. That’s just common law isn’t it? If I buy a replica Super Bowl Ring I’m not an automatic Super Bowl Champion. Stop comparing our franchises!

The 7: Movies I’ll Always Stop and Watch on Cable

You know those lazy Sundays where you sit around your house, in your pajamas, and just channel surf until you find something good? That’s what this list represents; not that the movies are stellar or Oscar worthy; but they are entertaining enough to stop and watch for 20 min intervals on any given day.

  1. Drumline – I get made fun of A LOT when this movie is brought up. It’s definately a guilty pleasure movie and perfect to just zone out and get in touch with my roots.
  2. Die Hard – Even with the butchering that comes with Cable TV; the sight of John McClaine will always make me put the remote down.
  3. Ocean’s Eleven – A recent addition to this list, as it’s been on Bravo every other weekend recently. It’s still a fantastically made film.
  4. The Day After Tomorrow – Another critically bashed film that is not as bad as people made it out to be; this disaster movie has some great special effects and Jake Gyllenhaal, can’t go wrong.
  5. The Sandlot – I will stop everytime, just to watch 10-15 mins, just to remember what it was like to be carefree and just worry about playing a little baseball.
  6. Starship Troopers – I Love This Movie. Everything about this movie brings out the 15 year old boy in me. Lots of violence. Lots of gore. Little bit of nudity. Of course, this is all cut out on cable, but if anything it makes for some good comedic moments.
  7. Back to the Future – This movie is a timeless classic. It saddens me to think that Hollywood wants to reboot the franchise, I really wish they would just leave shit alone.