Beer tax will reappear

if rejected by legislators

Proposals to tax beer sold in Oregon by as much as 10 cents per 12-ounce serving won't die even if legislators squash them.

Backers say a measure calling for increased taxes on barrels of beer will come before state voters in the form of a ballot initiative, probably in November 2004, if legislators vote down current proposals.

Don Bishoff, a legislative aide to State Sen. Bill Morrisette, said Morrisette would support efforts to create a ballot initiative calling for the extra levies on barrels of beer sold within the state. The It's Time for a Dime committee, which is lobbying legislators on behalf of the increase, is expected to engineer a ballot initiative if necessary.

If the beer lobby stifles the bill in this session, Bishoff said Morrisette 'will definitely join the effort to do an initiative campaign to pass it. We believe there's strong support for this.'

Observers both for and against the measure believe Oregon voters would approve the so-called 'sin tax.'

Bishoff added that Morrisette, a co-sponsor of one of four measures that would tax barrels of beer sold in Oregon, thinks that at least one of the measures will pass the state House and Senate. The measures range from a proposed 2-cent increase, per 12-ounce beer, to a 10.66-cent increase.

Oregon's beer and wine wholesalers oppose the measure because they think add-on costs at each level would translate to a 20-cent per bottle Ñ or $1.20 per six-pack Ñ additional levy.

'That's like raising someone's taxes by 1,300 percent,' said Jim Parker, executive director of the Oregon Brewers Guild.

Greenbrier reports

second-quarter loss

The Greenbrier Cos. reported a $1.2 million net loss for the second quarter of fiscal 2003, a sharp drop from the $16 million loss for the same quarter last year.

Revenues jumped from $71.8 million in the first quarter to $104 million for the quarter ending Feb. 28, with new orders for 1,500 rail cars valued at $90 million.

Greenbrier has a rail-car manufacturing backlog of 5,800 units valued at $330 million and doubled its production rates for the quarter. Chief Executive Officer William Furman projected the company would see a profit in the second half of the year and the year as a whole, 'due to higher production levels and improved margins at all of our new rail-car facilities.'

Faced with the city's new business income taxes, Furman recently threatened to move the companies' operations out of Portland.

It doesn't appear to be on the horizon. Starting in May, Greenbrier's Gunderson facility in Portland will focus exclusively on building double-stack intermodal cars, for which a strong market has developed.

Intel joins competitors

in wireless endeavor

Intel Corp., looking to expand its growing wireless division, has joined an industry advocacy group that includes Fujitsu Inc., its biggest rival.

The nonprofit World Interoperability for Microwave Access group wants to develop ways to stretch broadband wireless access over longer distances. Whereas so-called 'wi-fi' technology currently ranges about 300 feet, Intel and others are honing systems that would increase that range to about 30 miles.

Intel also recently rolled out its Centrino chips aimed at the wireless Internet user market.

ÑAndy Giegerich and

Kristina Brenneman

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