Posted by 06 October 2017
If Michigan senators get their way, local governments in that state will soon be banned from enacting a “soda tax” targeting sugar-sweetened drinks (or any other food).
Here’s how VoteSpotter described legislation passed on October 4:
Senate Bill 583 Ban local taxation of food and food services: Passed 31 to 5 in the Senate
To prohibit local governments and authorities from imposing a tax or fee on the manufacture, distribution, wholesaling or retail sale of food for immediate consumption or non-immediate consumption.
A handful of cities across the nation have passed taxes targeting sugar-sweetened drinks. Philadelphia, for instance, imposed a 1.5 cent tax on many beverages, including those sweetened artificially. Other cities with a similar tax include Oakland and San Francisco in California, Boulder in Colorado, and Seattle. Chicago also has a soda tax, but city council members are considering repealing it.
These taxes are aimed at promoting healthier consumption, although some experts dispute that they accomplish this goal. As discussed in a previous VoteSpotter blog, Philadelphia’s experience appears to show that they do affect consumer behavior but may harm businesses and workers.
States have ultimate authority over laws passed by city governments, which means soda taxes can be invalidated by state legislative action. Michigan senators are attempting to do this pre-emptively, since no local government in that state has such a tax. If SB 583 passes the House and is signed into law by Governor Rick Snyder, no city would have the power to impose such a tax in the future.
Do you support state action to stop local governments from imposing soda taxes? Or do you think taxing sugar-sweetened drinks is a good policy for cities to enact?