July 2, 2018-
A HOSTAGE SITUATION ended quietly in the California Capitol last Thursday, when lawmakers in Sacramento paid a hefty ransom to big soda companies. The lawmakers advanced legislation under duress that would ban localities from establishing taxes on soda or sugary drinks for the next 12 years. The soda companies were pleased enough with this ransom note that they pulled an initiative off this fall’s ballot that would have required a two-thirds super-majority across California for all local tax increases.
The new legislation frees localities to continue to set their own tax policy democratically — just not on soda products until 2030. Gov. Jerry Brown, after signing the soda tax ban, wrote in a statement that the proposed ballot initiative — the bomb threat — was “far-reaching” and “an abomination.” He added that mayors across that state had called him to voice their alarm, putting pressure on him to prevent detonation. “For these reasons, I believe AB 1838 is in the public interest and must be signed,” he said.