Senate Health and Human Services Committee Passes Soda Tax Bill on Party-Line Vote
A bill that would tax soda and other sweetened drinks passed the Senate Health and Human Services Committee yesterday on a 7-3 party-line vote, the Los Angeles Times reports. The bill (SB 1520), sponsored by committee Chair Deborah Ortiz (D-Sacramento) would impose on beverage distributors a two-cent tax per 12-ounce serving of soda and other sweetened beverages, including certain iced teas and juice beverages. Diet sodas and beverages containing more than 50% natural fruit juice would be exempt from the tax, which would raise about $340 million a year to prevent childhood obesity, educate children about their teeth, pay dental bills and help schools become less dependent on selling soda and junk food to fund activities (Tamaki, Los Angeles Times, 4/11). A study released last week found that soda companies have excessive power in marketing their products to public school students in California school districts that lack adequate funding (California Healthline, 4/5).
Ortiz should be "sent to the legislative woodshed" for championing the soda tax, a Bakersfield Californian editorial states. The editorial contends that money raised by such a tax would do little to alleviate a state budget deficit that is approaching $20 billion. It adds that by following Ortiz's logic, California should also tax salt because it contributes to high blood pressure. The editorial concludes, "Ortiz has gone over the edge in her attempt to use taxation for social engineering" (Bakersfield Californian, 4/7).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.