State Watch

California governor signs ban on soda tax

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California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed into law on Thursday a measure banning cities from passing taxes on soda for more than a decade. 

The measure was a last-minute compromise to stop an initiative circulated by the beverage industry that would make it more difficult to raise state and local taxes in California.

“Mayors from countless cities have called to voice their alarm and to strongly support the compromise which this bill represents,” Brown wrote in a signing message.


Four cities in California have moved in recent years to raise taxes on soda and other sugary beverages in an effort to combat diabetes, heart disease and other weight-related health issues.

The beverage industry has fought such measures. According to The Sacramento Bee, the industry spent some $30 million in 2016 alone to combat soda tax proposals in San Francisco and Oakland. Those efforts were ultimately unsuccessful.

The compromise bill signed on Thursday sought to avert a ballot initiative circulated by the beverage industry that would have raised the threshold for all tax proposals from 50 percent to 75 percent, which would have made it significantly harder for cities and counties to raise taxes. 

That ballot measure drew staunch opposition from cities and public employee unions, the Sacramento Bee reported.

Arizona and Michigan have also passed bans on soda taxes, and the question of such a ban will be put to voters in Oregon in the November elections.

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