California’s Charter City Can Implement Sweetened Beverage Tax Without Penalty, Court Rules

Santa Cruz — In a ruling in late March, the California Third District Court of Appeals ruled that charter cities such as Santa Cruz were financially punished by the state for legally implementing a sugary drink tax (soda tax) on their residents. I decided I couldn’t.

“The Court of Appeals ruling means cities across California can re-enact public health policies like the sugary drink tax without fear of financial ruin,” said the Santa Cruz City Council member, a plaintiff in the lawsuit. “We are now one step closer to enabling more Californians to benefit from these kinds of policies,” said Martin Watkins of California.

In early June 2018, the 1.5 cents per ounce ballot initiative championed by Watkins et al. was brought in. When the then government suddenly stopped. Jerry Brown signed into law to keep groceries affordable in June 2018, months before the election.

The law contains penal provisions for charter cities that try to prevent taxation on food and implement a sugar drink tax or other food-related tax that robs the city of sales tax revenue, and California legislators facilitated by pressure onAccording to the beverage industry court documents.

“Of course we were disappointed,” said Watkins. “We’ve put a lot of time and energy into creating really great things that reflect our values.”

Shortly after the bill was passed, then-Santa Cruz City Manager Martin Bernal suggested removing the measure from the 2018 ballot for fear of penalties, and it was eventually removed.

In 2020, Jarvis, Fay & Gibson LLP filed a lawsuit on behalf of Watkins and Fresno-based nonprofit Cultiva La Salud. Cultiva La Salud advocates for health equity in the San Joaquin Valley. ChangeLab Solutions The American Heart Association also supported the lawsuit.

Genoveva Islas, Founder and Executive Director of Cultiva La Salud, said: “This ruling is a win for all Californians and paves the way for local health advocates and local governments to tackle the health inequities caused by sugary drink consumption.”

The Court of Appeals decision, which held that the law’s penal provisions were unconstitutional, does not affect the ban on local sugary drink taxes. We can now reconsider putting the sugary drink tax initiative to a vote without fear of penalties.

Changelab Solutions vice president of legal affairs, Sabrina Adler, said: “This was a test of what we had been thinking all along. Both the way the 2018 law was passed and what it contained were questionable from a constitutional point of view, and the courts put it squarely. ”

According to Adler, the ruling is simply a win for plaintiffs and charter cities across California. It also indicates that it is possible to cast

“There’s also a symbolic message here: you can’t get around the law to protect your bottom line,” Adler said. “Taking away that local authority would clearly have detrimental effects, especially if it benefits businesses rather than individuals.”

The opinion will become final 30 days after posting on March 29, after which the state will request review from the California Supreme Court within 10 days thereafter. If the state pursues that route, the Supreme Court will give him two months to decide whether to hear the case. If the state does not appeal or the Supreme Court denies review, its opinion is final. California’s Charter City Can Implement Sweetened Beverage Tax Without Penalty, Court Rules

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