California is putting a moratorium on any new taxes for soda after Gov. Jerry Brown signed a new law on Thursday.
The bill, prevents local city and county governments from imposing any additional taxes on soda until 2031. The legislation was born out of a deal struck between legislators and business and labor interests who agreed to remove another iniative from the Nov. 6 ballot that would restricted cities and counties from raising any taxes without a supermajority vote from local citizens.
Assemblymember Richard Bloom says the bill came about as a direct result of lobbying by the soda companies.
"The soda companies are clearly behind this. Of the eight and a quarter million dollars that's been raised to support this effort, over $7 million of those dollars came directly out of the pockets of the soda companies," said Bloom.
In a statement about the bill, Brown said that soda taxes, "combat the dangerous and ill effects of too much sugar in the diets of children," and that he supported the new ban because mayors across the state were alarmed by the tax initiative.
Public health advocates say sugar is harmful to people's health and is a major contributor to illnesses like heart disease, and diabetes. Liam Connolly, from the American Heart Association says sugar is extremely harmful.
"People that consume extra sugar in their diet, it's the number one risk when it comes to heart disease," said Connolly.
Mere moments after Brown signed the legislation preventing new soda taxes, proponents of the Nov. 6 initiative formally withdrew their ballot initiative. If passed, the ballot iniatitive would have required all local tax hikes to pass by a two-thirds supermajority vote, a significant hurdle for cities and counties who need to raise revenue for their projects.
Current law states any local sales, hotel-room or other tax increase, need a simple majority of local ballots cast.
Aurora Castellanos, an activist from Oakland says this measure robs residents in California of their fundamental rights.
"What concerns me is that people will not have the right to vote. They're taking away the right to vote and make decisions on our health," said Castellanos.
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