New Bill in Wyoming Would Give Millions to Substance Abuse Programs

New Bill in Wyoming Would Give Millions to Substance Abuse Programs

By Shawn Dwyer 01/28/14

A lawmaker from Casper wants to use money from alcohol sales to fund treatment.

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Rep. Bunky Loucks (R-Capser) has introduced a legislative proposal in the state of Wyoming that would earmark 15 percent of all alcohol taxes to be placed in a special account to fund substance abuse prevention, assessment, and treatment.

“I think all of us have had issues with someone struggling with alcohol abuse or substance abuse,” Loucks said. “So I wanted to see if we couldn’t give more money without dipping into another account.” Last year, Wyoming collected about $13.6 million in taxes from alcohol sales, which means there could be around $2.25 available for Loucks’ proposed fund. The proposal arose from a defeated bill last year that would have raised beer taxes from two cents per gallon to 18 cents. But the Wyoming’s beer tax laws have remained unchanged since 1935 and rank as the lowest in the country, which naturally led to defeat in a heavily conservative state.

Though Loucks was one of the legislators who helped defeat last year’s bill, he said that he has drawn inspiration from others around Wyoming who have used the earmark solution across the state, including Riverton Mayor Ron Warpness. “We have a serious alcohol problem in not just Riverton and Fremont County, but across the entire state,” Warpness said last year. “And it comes down to the fact that it costs money to get these people to rehabilitation or get the help they need.”

Loucks’ bill will be brought up for debate when the new legislative session starts February 10. It needs a two-thirds majority to be introduced.