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Lawmakers send mixed signals on whether Democrats would support a liquor tax hike

Do they or don't they? Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan and his office sent out mixed signals yesterday about whether he and Majority Democrats would support a higher liquor tax to get more drunken drivers off the road. Sheridan told reporters Thursday morning he would consider the 50 cent per liter tax on hard liquor endorsed last week by a Senate committee.

But later in the day, Sheridan spokeswoman Rebekah Sweeney said Democrats are not inclined to raising the liquor tax but they're not ruling it out, either.

Last month, the Assembly unanimously approved a crackdown on drunken driving which does not include any new tax increases.

A Senate panel added the liquor tax hike to the Assembly's package and the full Senate is expected to vote on it in a few weeks.

Also, an Assembly panel held a hearing this week on raising the state's beer tax. But Democratic leaders and Gov. Jim Doyle say they're against that.