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Sen. Ellis Sponsors Bill to Fund Substance Abuse Treatment

Senate Bill 211 Provides Money from Alcohol Tax for Treatment and Prevention Programs

Juneau - Senator Johnny Ellis (D-Anchorage), the Senate Majority Leader, is sponsoring Senate Bill 211 to allocate 100 percent of the money collected by the existing alcohol tax to the Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Treatment and Prevention Fund. Currently, only half of alcohol tax revenue is spent on substance abuse treatment and prevention. With a small statutory change, all money collected from alcohol taxes can be put into proven treatment and prevention programs.

"Real progress against substance abuse will require local and state leadership. Concern is meaningless, however, if not followed by action from those with the power to implement significant long-term solutions," Sen. Ellis said. "I'm pleased to work with a coalition of substance abuse providers, the faith-based community, and Alaska's alcohol retailers and wholesalers to ensure proven treatment and prevention programs for substance abuse are adequately funded."

Alaska Cabaret, Hotel, Restaurant and Retailers Association (CHARR) has included Senate Bill 211 as one of its top legislative priorities this session. "Alaska's hospitality industry is paying the state government its fair share in taxes, and we support using this revenue to provide effective and readily-available treatment," said Dale Fox, Executive Director of CHARR.

Currently, the state receives nearly 40 million dollars annually from alcohol excise taxes. A recent study published by the Advisory Board on Alcoholism and Drug abuse found that Alaska spends roughly 740 million dollars annually due to the effects of alcohol and other drug abuse on prosecutions and incarcerations, health care, traffic accidents and productivity loss. Senate Bill 211 will ensure 100 percent of taxes collected from the sale of alcohol be used to combat the damaging effects substance abuse has in Alaska. The bill has been referred to the Senate Health and Social Services Committee and the Senate Finance Committee.

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