Grassroots Change
facebook twitter instagram

News & Media

Media Spotlight

Fizzled Out: How Big Soda uses crafty legislation to defeat taxes on sugary drinks.

July 2018

Grub Street,


July 5, 2018-

On Sunday, lawmakers in California voted on Senate Bill 872, a piece of legislature that included, among other things, a move to bar any new local soda taxes until the year 2031. If the move seems strikingly counterintuitive and goes against everything we thought we knew about California, don’t worry, it’s not just you. Thanks to an unusual strategy, the bill became bona fide law four days later. So, what happened?

Officials who support sugary-drink levies admitted that they had little choice but to pass the bill, which effectively puts a 12-year moratorium on perhaps the biggest threat to Big Soda’s profits, in the state that developed the most robust anti-soda policies in the country. All Coca-Cola and Pepsi needed to win the most decisive victory yet in the soda tax wars was a hundred days and a few million dollars. Considering the outcome and billion-dollar profits, the maneuver cost the beverage industry basically nothing.

In theory, the tactic could conceivably extend to every other state, says Mark Pertschuk, director of Grassroots Change. Pertschuk fought Big Tobacco in the ’80s, when the combined forces of corporate nicotine titans tried preemption as a means to defeat smoke-free policies in cities. This is “a page right out of their playbook,” he says.

“If California, a progressive state and the biggest in the Union, can’t resist the soda industry’s millions, why would one in the middle of the country say no?” says Pertschuk. “It just shows complete weakness by elected officials regardless of party.”

 “California did it, they’ll argue,” he says. “Why shouldn’t a more reasonable state pass this, too?”

Read the post

Media Spotlight Archive


2019 UPDATE: State Preemption Map

The Preemption Watch Preemption Map tracks state preemption of eight major public health and safety issues. Click on any one of the eight issues to see which states preempt local control. Click on your state to see whether local authority has been preserved or preempted across the eight issues. Discrimination: …

VIDEO: Can Experts Solve Poverty?

This is a wonderful video from our friends at the Blum Center on Developing Economies at the University of California, Berkeley. It addresses one of the key issues we struggle with – How do grassroots activists relate to “experts,” and why do they need one another?

Read Blog


Gun legislation in Tallahassee split along partisan lines

The Palm Beach Post, Christine Stapleton, September 17, 2019- The gun control debate expected in the upcoming 2020 legislative session will feature extreme initiatives on both sides, including bills that would lift the ban on bump stocks, and allow guns to be openly carried on college campuses and give local governments the power …

Grassroots group seeks fee on single-use bags

The Intelligencer, Charles Bolinger, September 16, 2019- As of last month, 300 municipalities across the nation have passed either a single-use bag fee, tax or ban, while state lawmakers have introduced at least 95 bills related to plastic bags so far this year. Bring Your Own Glen-Ed (BYOGE) wants to …

Unease for Colorado Drillers as Locals Flex New Regulatory Power

Bloomberg Environment, Tripp Baltz, September 12, 2019- Colorado’s oil-rich Weld County has taken steps to encourage more drilling. Neighboring Boulder County is working to significantly reduce it. Both are acting under a new state law that gives local governments more control over energy production. What happens in Weld County matters …

Read News