Spotlight: Soda Tax Preemption Ballot Measures in Washington & Oregon
Both Washington State and Oregon are facing soda industry funded initiatives on the November 6, 2018 ballot to preempt local soda taxes. Here are a few recent stories on those campaigns less than one week before Election Day 2018:
Soda Companies Are Waging A Cynical War On ‘Grocery Taxes’
The Huffington Post, 10/19/2018
One of America’s most dishonest ballot initiative campaigns is playing out in Washington and Oregon.
If approved by voters, Washington’s Initiative 1634 and Oregon’s Measure 103 would bar cities from passing any new taxes on “grocery items.” No city in Washington or Oregon has ever proposed such a tax. Some cities have, however, proposed levying taxes on sugary beverages in recent years, with Seattle passing a 1.75 cent per ounce charge in 2017 and Portland’s Multnomah County considering a similar measure. The grocery tax initiatives are designed to prohibit localities in those two states from doing so in the future.
Soda companies are the primary donors to both campaigns. More than 98 percent of the $20 million raised so far in Washington has come from Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Keurig Dr Pepper and Red Bull North America. In Oregon the American Beverage Association is the largest single donor to the campaign’s $4.2 million raised so far, with Safeway coming in second. [Emphasis added]
Examining Oregon and Washington’s ‘grocery tax’ Initiatives
KATU 22, 10/24/2018
OREGON – MEASURE 103
Ballotpedia outlines this measure by stating that it would “prevent the enactment or increase of any state or local tax, fee, or assessment on the sale of groceries.”…
In the past, there’s been discussion of a soda or sugary beverage tax, especially in Multnomah County. Hood River County is currently working on a prepared food and beverage tax as a way to help solve the county budget crisis. The cities of Ashland and Yachats are the only ones in Oregon that have these types of taxes in place. But it’s these local level taxes that the “Yes on Measure 103” campaign cites as the reason behind it… [Emphasis added]
WASHINGTON INITIATIVE 1634
Ballotpedia outlines I-1634 as follows: “This measure would prohibit local government entities from imposing any new tax, fee, or other assessment on grocery items. It would not prevent the state from imposing taxes on groceries… The measure would prohibit any existing taxes, fees, or assessments from being increased after January 15, 2018.”
Unlike Oregon’s Measure 103, this initiative is NOT a constitutional amendment, but similarly, it does take power away from local governments when it comes to enacting so called “sin” and other food and beverage taxes, and put it in the hands of the state. Recently Seattle passed the soda and sugary beverage tax. I-1634 is likely a direct reaction to that because it is supported by soda companies, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Keurig/Dr. Pepper and Red Bull. [Emphasis added]
3 states try to help the FCC kill net neutrality and preempt state laws
Ars Technica, 10/23/2018
The Federal Communications Commission’s repeal of net neutrality rules has received support from the Republican attorneys general of Texas, Arkansas, and Nebraska.
The three states filed a brief Friday in the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, urging judges to reject a lawsuit filed against the FCC by 22 other states…
The FCC’s net neutrality repeal is being challenged in a lawsuit filed by all 22 US states with a Democratic attorney general, as well as the District of Columbia, which also has a Democratic AG.
Broadband Industry Sues Vermont Over Net Neutrality Law
The broadband industry is making good on its threat to sue states that pass their own net neutrality laws.
Today, a coalition of five cable and wireless groups took the state of Vermont to court over new open Internet laws. Several weeks ago, four of the same organizations targeted California’s new net neutrality regulations.
Paid Sick Days
Sick of It
Houston Chronicle, 10/20/2018
As more cities push for paid sick leave, states push back.
Court rules part of Trump order on sanctuary city funding is unconstitutional
The Hill, 10/24/2018
A federal court has ruled against the Trump administration in a lawsuit over funding for “sanctuary cities.”
U.S. District Judge Richard Jones wrote in a Wednesday judgement that part of President Trump‘s executive order to end federal grant funding for sanctuary cities is unconstitutional.
What is Amendment 74? And why are so many Colorado leaders against it?
Denver Post, 10/23/2018
Amendment 74 is getting bashed.
Whether it’s Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, calling it “one of the worst initiatives that I have seen” or Republican Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers labeling it “stupid” and “a disaster for taxpayers of our state and local governments,” Amendment 74 has elicited high-profile opposition far and wide.
The measure, which would amend the Colorado constitution to require that property owners be compensated for devaluation of their property due to government action, has been condemned by dozens of city councils across the state. It has also taken on heavy fire from the Colorado Municipal League as an unwise policy replete with unintended consequences.
The main argument against Amendment 74 is that it will open up the floodgates to litigation, with claims of property value loss being filed against governments that are just exercising their normal land use or zoning authority…
The bulk of that money comes from Protect Colorado, an oil- and gas-backed committee that is also pouring millions of dollars into defeating Proposition 112, which would increase the setback distance for new wells. [Emphasis added]
Judge won’t dismiss lawsuits brought by cities against state restrictions on gun laws
Miami Herald, 10/23/2018
A circuit judge has given a boost to more than 30 local governments — many of them in Miami-Dade and Broward counties — challenging a 2011 state law that threatens stiff penalties for city or county officials who approve gun restrictions.
Leon County Circuit Judge Charles Dodson last week refused a request by Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office to dismiss three consolidated lawsuits that contend the 2011 law, which threatens penalties such as removal from office, is unconstitutional.
Oklahoma’s State Preemption Law Defeats Gun Free Zone in Tulsa
Michael Bloomberg gives $1.5 million to fight Measure 103, the grocery tax ban
The Oregonian, 10/29/2018
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has again waded into Oregon politics with a record-breaking, $1.5 million contribution to fight Measure 103, an initiative that would prohibit taxes on grocery revenue and most items sold in the supermarkets.
Bloomberg did not explain the reason for the mammoth contribution, disclosed Friday. As New York City mayor, though, Bloomberg unsuccessfully sought to ban super-sized sodas. And in 2017 he spent $5 million in support of a proposed soda tax in Chicago.
While Measure 103 is nominally about a ban on taxing groceries and grocers, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported earlier this month that it’s focused in large part on establishing a constitutional prohibition on soda taxes statewide.
State Supreme Court Weighs Whether Pittsburgh Can Mandate Paid Sick Time, Safety Training
90.5 WESA (Local NPR Affiliate), 10/23/2018
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday over two laws that could affect workers in the city of Pittsburgh. One of the measures requires private employers to offer between three and five paid sick days a year, while the other creates new training rules for security officers in many larger buildings.
Local employers and business groups sued soon after Pittsburgh enacted the ordinances in 2015. Those organizations contend that under state law, Pittsburgh cannot burden the private sector with mandatory paid sick time and new training rules.
If Pa. state government won’t help working families, it’s up to Philly and Pittsburgh
The Inquirer, 10/29/2018
The state government of Pennsylvania is holding our workers back. Not only are they failing to ensure decent working conditions for families, they are also preventing cities and local governments from taking action.
The Legislature needs to get out of the way on paid sick days
Pennsylvanians know that local democracies are best qualified to address and solve the problems in their communities and reflect the views and values unique to their neighborhoods. When state legislators stop local municipalities from passing their own laws or overturn existing laws, they silence the voice of the people, rob local democracies of their power, and hurt the communities’ health, safety, and economic well-being.
While the policies they seek to overturn are driven by grassroots efforts, state preemption policies are written and promoted by corporate interests, and enacted by legislators who are under the sway of corporate lobbyists.
Business groups launch coalition to push for statewide pre-emption of paid sick leave ordinances
The Texas Tribune, 10/22/2018