How sodas are taxed, sold and marketed in California could change under a newly proposed package of bills.
Five state lawmakers each introduced a bill on Wednesday aimed at reducing the amount of sugary drinks that are sold in California. The suite of bills is co-sponsored by the California medical and dental associations.
Democratic Assemblymember Richard Bloom of Santa Monica wants to tax sugary drinks. He said similar bills have been introduced in recent years and failed, but the climate in Sacramento has changed.
"We have a new governor, we have new legislators, and there is a growing awareness amongst members of the public that this is in fact a public health crisis and something needs to be done about it," Bloom said.
The American Beverage Association's Steve Maviglio said a report this year by the Legislative Analyst’s Office indicates a tax would disproportionately affect lower-income people. He says the LAO also maintains that the net health effects of a tax are uncertain.
“There's a lot of talk about blaming the soda industry for coming up with fake numbers and so forth, but if you look at the very respected, bipartisan legislative analysts, they've come to the exact same conclusion,” Maviglio said.
The LAO report also says the tax would reduce sugary drink consumption and potentially lead to improvements in health.
Democratic Assemblymember Rob Bonta of Oakland said the bills are aimed at controlling a health crisis in the state. He added that last year's legislative deal with the beverage industry to ban cities and counties from taxing sodas does not affect this effort.
"There was nothing said last year about promotional pricing,” he said. “There was nothing said last year about super sizes. There was nothing said last year about healthy checkout, or labeling, or statewide tax. That's this package. This package is this year."
Here are all of the bills included in the package:
- AB 764 by Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) - Marketing
- AB 766 by Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco) - Regulates size
- AB 138 by Assemblymember Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) - Soda tax
- AB 765 by Assemblymember Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland) - Placement at checkout
- SB 347 by Senator Bill Monning (D-Carmel) - Label warning