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Santa Monica Lawmaker's Sugary Drinks Tax Delayed Until Next Year

Bob Kronovetrealty
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Santa Monica Convention and Visitors

By Jorge Casuso

April 22, 2019 -- Assemblymember Richard Bloom's bill that would levy a 2-cent-per-ounce tax on sugary drinks to fight obesity has been shelved until next year, the former Santa Monica Mayor annouced Monday.

Bloom's AB 138 -- which was approved by the Health Committee April 9 -- will remain in the Assembly Revenue & Taxation Committee for the rest of the legislative year, Bloom's office said.

The bill, which would be the first such state tax approved in the country, will move forward through the legislative process next year, Bloom said ("Santa Monica Lawmaker's Tax on Sugary Drinks Passes Key Committee," April 10, 2019).

“While this is not the outcome I had hoped for, AB 138 remains alive in the legislative process, albeit on a slower track," Bloom said in a statement.

"This delay is unfortunate because, with the health outcomes of millions of Californians at stake, there is no time to lose. On the other hand, we will now have the time to build an even bigger and stronger coalition of supporters.”

The soda industry greeted the setback, noting taxpayers are already burdened economically in the high-cost state.

“We are glad the legislature delayed action,” Steve Maviglio, the spokesman for tthe American Beverage Association, said in a statement Monday.

The delay comes nearly four years after a similar bill sponsored by Bloom was soundly defeated in committee.

AB 138 -- which is sponsored by the American Heart Association, the Public Health Institute and the California chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics -- would use revenues from the tax to fight diabetes, which is especially prevalent in poor and minority communities.

Bloom said support for the bill -- which is backed by a coalition of organizations representing medical practitioners, educators and community activists -- has grown as "the impacts of sugary drinks have become increasingly unmistakable."

“The price of the legislature’s inaction on this issue is human lives and reduced quality of life for the millions of Californians experiencing poor health outcomes as a result of diabetes and obesity," Bloom said Monday.

"This toll is also felt financially by both the state and the general public, who face skyrocketing healthcare costs as a result of these chronic conditions. It shouldn’t take a crisis to motivate action, but we are now at a crisis point and I hope action will soon follow.”

Bloom's efforts have drawn stiff opposition from the beverage industry, which is fighting similar taxes proposed in other states.

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