California banned local governments from creating taxes on soda and other sugary drinks through 2030 ahead of the deadline last week for November ballot initiatives to qualify.
The new law, signed Thursday by Gov. Jerry Brown, was a reaction to an initiative set for the November ballot. The beverage industry had garnered enough signatures to prohibit local governments from increasing any taxes without two-thirds support from the public.
The Legislature agreed to substitute their measure, A.B. 1838, in its place. Companies like Coca-Cola and Pepsi were to remove their initiative from the ballot in exchange for the moratorium.
“Mayors from countless cities have called to voice their alarm and to strongly support the compromise which this bill represents,” Brown wrote in his signing message.
Brown, as well as the Legislature, was concerned the initiative would place restrictions on local governments to create any new taxes beyond those affecting beverages.
“We find ourselves truly between the biggest rock and the smallest hard space,” Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins said, before asking her colleagues to support the bill that would just ban soda taxes.
The new law doesn’t get rid of existing soda taxes, but does retroactively void any 2018 soda taxes that cities may have planned to pursue this year.
The American Beverage Association, which sponsored the bill, said in a statement that it aims to help protect working families from unfair increases to their grocery bills.
“At the same time, we’re working with the public health community and government officials to help Californians reduce sugar consumption in ways that don’t cost jobs or hurt the small businesses that are so important to local communities,” the organization said.
Local legislators Assemblyman Dante Acosta, R-Santa Clarita, Assemblyman Tom Lackey, R-Palmdale and Sen. Henry Stern, D-Canoga Park, voted to prohibit the taxation. Sen. Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, did not vote.