Why California Lawmakers Who Supported Soda Tax Voted to Ban It

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SACRAMENTO — A group of students went door-to-door, collecting signatures for a soda tax in Stockton, wanting to bring the idea to a vote.

“We’ve been doing a lot of work in Stockton for the past two years around getting a soda tax on the ballot for this year, in November,” student Janet Phillips.

It’s a vote they learned Thursday will never happen — at least not until 2031.

“It was so important especially for Stockton just because Stockton doesn’t have a lot of funding. And on top of that, a lot of people in Stockton either know someone who is diabetic or are a diabetic,” student Isaac Sison said.

Testimonies were delivered Thursday from some of the California State Assembly members who sponsored the ban and voted in its favor.

“I think this is a terrible decision that we’re making. I’m very disturbed by it,” Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, said.

“I come to the informational hearing and the later vote on the floor with a sense of abject disgust. Absolute disgust,” Assemblyman Richard Bloom, D-Santa Monica, said.

If it’s so hard to swallow, why vote yes? One lawmaker described it as a $7 million dirty trick by the beverage industry.

That’s how much was spent on gathering signatures for an initiative that would have imposed severe restrictions on a much broader range of taxes. Several of the legislators voting yes on Thursday said that those tax restrictions would have been so broad, some California cities wouldn’t have even able to pay for police and fire departments.

Pushing the soda tax ban was the only other option.

The other tax initiative was to be dropped by the lobbying group that presented it, by the end of the day.

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