It appears that the old cliche, monkey see, monkey do, is alive and well at the New Mexico State Legislature. House Bill 398 has been introduced as the mirror version of Senate Bill 314, with both seeking to make serious increases to the excise tax on multiple forms of liquor, including craft beer.
This bill has been sponsored by representatives Joanne Ferrary, Miguel Garcia, and Rudy Martinez, a trio of Democrats. Ferrary is from Las Cruces, Garcia is from Albuquerque, and Martinez is from Bayard, a small town near Silver City. It will head to the House Business & Industry Committee, though no date for a hearing has been scheduled.
Just like SB314, it will raise the excise tax from 41 cents per gallon to $3.08 for all beer produced above 15,000 barrels per year. That would likely cap any future growth by rapidly expanding breweries such as La Cumbre and Bosque. It might also force Santa Fe and Marble, both of which are already producing more than 15,000 barrels, to rethink their strategy going forward. The only difference between the two bills that we can see (note, we are not lawyers, so there could be subtle bits lost in the legalese of the seemingly identical paragraphs) is that there is no mention of cider in HB398. Hooray for that, at least, though these bills change so often they might add that again later.
The New Mexico Brewers Guild has been working hard to stop SB314 from even getting past the committee stage, but now it will have to double its efforts to stop HB398. As we have with SB314, we will keep an eye out for news about this new bill and share it with all of you. If anyone out there hears about anything, even a town hall involving the bill sponsors, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible.
In the meantime, keep supporting our craft breweries the best way you can, by attending their events and drinking their beer.
Stay vigilant, New Mexico.