A Republican Pennsylvania lawmaker introduced a bill this week that would render Philadelphia’s controversial soda tax invalid. State Rep. Mark Mustio (R-Allegheny) proposed the soda-tax preemption legislation in an effort to ban local jurisdictions from imposing taxes on food, beverages or containers for either. Only beer, wine and spirits would be exempt from the proposal. “Singling out one economic sector with an unfair tax that is twenty-four times higher than the tax on beer is, at best, nonsensical,” Mustio said in a memo accompanying the bill. “It is critical that we help the city maintain access to fresh foods and groceries, while also protecting the thousands of jobs in the industry.”
The proposal comes as a lawsuit filed by the American Beverage Association remains under review by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The case was appealed to the high court last June after the State Commonwealth Court upheld the 1.5-cents-per-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages within city limits. Mike Dunn, a spokesman for Mayor Jim Kenney, swiftly defended the tax and said Mustio’s bill is a broader threat to localities across Pennsylvania.