State voters to decide whether to bar local soda taxes

    KOMO News file photo

    OLYMPIA, Wash. - Washington state voters will decide this November whether local governments should be barred from placing new taxes on soda or other grocery items.

    Last week, the Secretary of State's Office certified Initiative 1634 to appear on the ballot. Supporters submitted more than 380,000 signatures last month, far more than the 259,622 signatures needed to qualify the measure for the November ballot.

    If approved, the measure would prevent cities and counties from imposing their own taxes on sodas or other sweetened beverages. The measure does not prevent the state from doing so.

    The initiative would not affect Seattle's soda tax, which took effect this year and raised $4,446,000 in its first three months, nearly a million dollars more than was predicted.

    Supporters of the ban says soda taxes hurt low-income and working class families most. "We think people are fed up with regressive taxation. We think citizens of Washington have clearly seen what's taken place in Seattle and are not OK with this type of tax," said Pete Lamb, senior business agent for Teamsters Local 174,

    But opponents of the ban say soda taxes perform a public good by cutting down on the consumption of sugary drinks that have little nutritional value and are linked to obesity, diabetes and other health problems.

    The campaign supporting I-1634 has raised more than $6 million, with The Coca-Cola Co. contributing nearly $3 million, PepsiCo, Inc. giving more than $2 million and Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, Inc. giving nearly $1 million.

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