Old News

A look into the Spectator’s past

Bridget Kelley

More stories from Bridget Kelley

(Editor’s note: Old News is a biweekly column featuring articles in The Spectator from the past. These are brief summaries of past articles.)

This week…

Ten years ago  — Sept. 2, 2009 Issue

‘Beer tax proposal aimed to help treatment programs’

A tax increase is a touchy subject, especially when legislators want to bump a tax up by 500 percent.

Rep. Terese Berceau (D-Madison) proposed a bill last week that aims to increase the tax on a barrel of beer from $2 to $10, an increase of about 2.5 cents per bottle. The current tax, which is .6 cents per bottle, has not seen an increase in over 40 years.

Berceau said some people view beer as sacred and something that shouldn’t be taxed, but in reality, Wisconsin has an alcohol problem that needs to be treated. The funds, Berceau said, will be used to create alcohol treatment programs for the long list of people who need it; it will also work to bring down the drunk driving numbers for the state.

“The issue is we have a national reputation for binge drinking,” Berceau said. “We’re not talking about the person who has a beer with dinner.”

Berceau said the tax is best illustrated by this example: “if someone drinks a six-pack everyday for a week, that person will only pay an additional dollar for the week.”

Though Berceau argues the tax will help benefit Wisconsin and its residents, the proposal is seeing opposition.

Peter Madland, executive director for the Tavern League of Wisconsin, said the tax targets lower and middle-income people, adding that the tax will cost jobs.

“By increasing the tax on microbreweries and bars, it will affect us indirectly as consumers,” Hagens said. “Bars can easily make up for it; it’s the consumer that will be hit. They can easily pawn off the price increase on us.”

Berceau refuted this claim, saying microbreweries are only taxed at half the rate, so it won’t affect them if at all. According to Berceau’s Web site, producers that brew less than 300,000 barrels a year pay only half of the tax on the first 50,000 barrels. She added that even Miller Brewing Co., one of the largest brewers in the country, is only taxed 30 percent because beer produced in Wisconsin exported elsewhere is exempt from the beer tax.

Berceau said the tax increase is a small price to pay for helping people and pay for treatment programs.

“You can say we just need to change the (Wisconsin) culture,” Berceau said, “but when we don’t have the funds to help change things, there’s not a whole lot that can be done.”

Twenty years ago ­— Sept. 4, 1999 Issue

‘State Street Closed Through September’

The State Street hill has been closed due to construction since June 24, but the road should be finished early this semester.

“Our goal is to get State Street open for traffic by the end of September,” said Scott Thoresen, project engineer for the city of Eau Claire.

The total completion of the project, which includes construction on Lexington Boulevard and Patton Avenue, should happen by the end of October, Thoresen said.

Right now State Street is closed from Roosevelt Avenue south to Lexington Boulevard. Patton Street and the intersection of Patton and Lexington Boulevard at the top to the hill also are closed.

And even though the State Street hill is closed, the campus hill also will be closed.

“Having both hills closed is going to make my life difficult,” said Jill Nyre, a senior who lives off campus. “I’ll have to plan to get up earlier and it’s going to cost more in gas money.”

“Getting to class on time is hard enough without having to find an alternative route to campus. They should’ve started the construction earlier so it would’ve been done by the time school started,” Nyre said.

Thirty years ago — Sept 7, 1989 Issue

‘Cigarette machines ordered out despite Student Senate protest’

All cigarette vending machines will be removed from the UW-Eau Claire campus Friday and Saturday despite an appeal by the Student Senate to Chancellor Larry Schnack.

The senate appealed to the decision made by Elliott Garb, assistant chancellor of student affairs, to remove the machines.

The senate appealed under Wisconsin statute Chapter 36.09 (5), which states “Students shall have the primary responsibility for the formulation and review of policies concerning student life, services and interests.”

During the summer of 1988 Garb unilaterally made the first decision to remove the machines, he said.

The decision was not made overnight, Garb said.

“It occurs as a result of a mountain range of information,” he said.

Forty years ago — Sept. 6, 1979 Issue

‘Strike possibility looms over campus’

Negotiations between the Wisconsin State Employees Union and the state resumed yesterday after being suspended for over two months, according to Karen Johnson, active member of Eau Claire local #356. The negotiating session is expected to last for the rest of this week, she said.

The resumption of negotiations lessens the earlier threat of a strike by the union’s 15,000 active members. On the UW-Eau Claire campus, over 200 members of WSEU local #1914 would be potential strikers.

According to Ralph Miller, president of local #1914 and a university policeman, the negotiations, contract and strike possibility hinge on these issues: salary increase, dental insurance and five chief union stewards.

Miller, who was among union members picketing on campus in 1977, said he sees indications of a settlement through negotiations.

“Chances for a strike are small,” he said. “In June of this year, the union gave up 300 of 350 original demands. Possibly, the state will concede on remaining points after [Governor Lee] Dreyfus’ announcement last week.”

As of press time, ballots were uncounted in a statewide WSEU vote deciding whether the union bargaining team should have the authority to call a job action independently of an all-union vote.

Kelley can be reached at [email protected].