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Ministers endorse higher alcohol tax | READER COMMENTARY

Hundreds of people rallied outside the State House nearly two years ago to raise the state alcohol tax to prevent reductions in services to people with mental illness. (Baltimore Sun/Barbara Haddock Taylor).
Hundreds of people rallied outside the State House nearly two years ago to raise the state alcohol tax to prevent reductions in services to people with mental illness. (Baltimore Sun/Barbara Haddock Taylor). (Baltimore Sun photo by Barbara Haddock Taylor)

On behalf of the Baptist Ministers’ Night Conference of Baltimore & Vicinity, I commend Johns Hopkins, Attorney General Brian Frosh, Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott and county executives Angela Alsobrooks, Calvin Ball, Marc Elrich, Johnny Olszewski Jr. and Steuart Pittman for endorsing the Health Equity Resource Communities (HERC), legislation introduced by Sen. Antonio Hayes and Dels. Erek Barron and Jazz Lewis (”Raising Maryland alcohol tax crucial to better health,” Jan. 12).

Faith groups from across Maryland are a key part of the HERC coalition of over 250 organizations that have endorsed this proposal. We acknowledge the fact that Maryland has high quality health systems. However, we also realize it’s time for it to make greater investments to address inequities and disparities in those areas within the state that lack vital health resources. The Health Equity Resource Communities proposal would be a great way to do this.

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We welcome the plan for the HERC to generate the funds needed for this initiative by increasing the alcoholic beverages tax by one penny per dollar. The alcohol sales tax increase would also save lives by reducing underage drinking and drunk driving. Because many of us in the faith community believe doing whatever we can to eradicate health inequities and disparities is our moral obligation, we will make enacting the Health Equity Resource Communities legislation one of our top priorities for the 2021 Maryland General Assembly session.

We pray that our legislators will heed our call.

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Pastor Sandra Conner, Baltimore

The writer is president of the Baptist Ministers’ Night Conference of Baltimore & Vicinity

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