By Mina Kim
Richmond voters may have crushed an effort to pass a soda tax last fall, but that’s not stopping one lawmaker from trying to tax sodas statewide.
State Senator Bill Monning (D-Carmel) tried to pass a statewide soda tax two years ago that failed, but with Democrats expected to hang on to supermajorities in both houses, Monning thinks this time is different.
“The political train has changed in 2012, but it’s still not going to be automatic by any means,” Monning says. “Any tax is going to be an uphill fight.”
Monning’s bill would slap distributors of sugary drinks with an excise tax of a penny-per-ounce, the same amount that was proposed in Richmond and El Monte, in southern California. The bill would further create a Children’s Health Promotion Fund which would then split all revenue between the State Department of Public Health and Superintendent of Public Instruction.
A recent Field Poll showed support for a tax if the money went to children’s nutrition and physical education.
Still, American Beverage Association spokesman Chuck Finnie says the industry isn’t worried. “Sugar-sweetened beverages are not the major source of added sugar in the American diet,” he says.
Finnie says the industry will educate lawmakers on how the drinks are being unfairly targeted.