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Once again, with feeling, it’s just a bill

Tuesday, Feb 18, 2014

* AP

An Illinois lawmaker wants to tax soft drinks as part of an effort to promote healthy living.

The legislation, sponsored by Chicago Democratic Sen. Mattie Hunter, would impose a penny-per-ounce surcharge on sugary drinks that are sold in sealed containers, according to a report ( ) by the Springfield bureau of Lee Enterprises Newspapers.

“Numerous studies have linked excessive consumption of sugary soft drinks to obesity,” Hunter said. “We as a state need to do a better job of educating the public and children in particular about this issue and the health risks.”

Money generated from the levy would be used to pay for a variety of health services and educational efforts.

* Sen. Hunter has no co-sponsors so far. Also, this concept hasn’t gone very far in the past

In 2011, a report by the Cook County Department of Public Health recommended that legislators impose a tax of 2 cents per ounce on all sugar-sweetened beverages.

Though similar measures have won approval in other states, Illinois lawmakers have been unable to get the tax off the ground.

* Opposition

“You reduce consumption, and you reduce employment,” said Brian Rainville, a spokesman for Teamsters Joint Council 25 in Chicago and northwest Indiana. “If there’s less being made and distributed, there’s fewer people doing those jobs.

“Politicians are always talking about creating middle-class jobs, and these are those jobs. These are the good, middle-class jobs that people want to create.” […]

“This tax adds $2.88 to a (24-pack) case of soda,” said Mark Denzler, vice president of the Illinois Manufacturers Association. “It’s nearly a 50 percent increase in the cost of it. So folks that are scrambling to buy groceries are going to have it even harder.”


- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 1:25 pm:

    Meh, too early to start a drinking game for “Nanny state” comments.

  2. - RNUG - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 1:26 pm:

    As close friends know, I’m a heavy drinker of the brown fizzy stuff. Don’t think some of you have ever seen me without a soda in my hand. So I’m totally opposed to it; that would put a noticable dent in my grocery budget.

  3. - OneMan - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 1:28 pm:

    I still think the answer is a tax on lite beer…. Go ahead and tax the hell out of that crap. All part of my Tax On Other People plan or TOOP tax…

    Also keep your hands off my Diet Coke….

  4. - 4 percent - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 1:29 pm:

    Arkansas is one of two states with a similar excise tax. They have the 3rd highest obesity rate in the United States and the rate has doubled since it was enacted.

    If people drive across state lines because of cigarette taxes and gas prices, can you imagine the people that will drive because of another $3 in taxes per case of soda.

  5. - Arizona Bob - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 1:34 pm:

    I took a look at her pictures proposing this on line. If her picture is any indication, I think she’s the LAST person I’d listen to regarding methods of weight control and teaching solutions to obesity. She’s got to figure that out for herself first.

    It’s pretty obvious what this is about. She’ll get $600 million for an “anti obesity” program that’ll just be pork for salaries and contracts to her overfed cronies.

    I guess she’s solved all the pension and investment problems in Illinois through her committee so she has time for this sort of tyrannical nonsense.LOL

    I wonder if she REALLY understands, or cares about, ANYTHING about presonal freedom from government despots like her.

  6. - Weltschmerz - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 1:35 pm:

    Federal lawmakers (with Ds after their names) are proposing that bank accounts be established foe each newborn giving them $500 to start the habit of savings. Fill in your own jokes.

  7. - plutocrat03 - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 1:40 pm:

    “TOOP tax”

    Could also be the Silly Tax on Other People….

    When fully implemented, the legislators plan to develop a Carbonated Refreshment Adjunct Proposal to tax what has not yet been taxed.

  8. - Timmeh - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 1:41 pm:

    I don’t think it’s that bad of an idea. A small tax (the article above used 20% as a model) wouldn’t increase soda prices to where nobody would buy them. But it would give alternatives an advantage.

  9. - downstate hack - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 1:43 pm:

    Let’s tax all food 100% because too many people are fat. Or maybe a tax on texting because too many people say stupid things.

  10. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 1:44 pm:

    36% of the country is OBESE, not just overweight, obese! Sugar is the biggest culprit. Just telling people to “figure it out for herself” clearly isn’t working. Studies suggest this will help. Just do it.

  11. - Formerly Known As... - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 1:45 pm:


  12. - Generation X - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 1:46 pm:

    Save us from ourselves all knowing Government!

    No thanks. Stay out of the bedroom and the kitchen too please

  13. - So Il M - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 1:48 pm:

    It is just another tax and nothing else. If the argument she is hiding behind were true then all sugar sweetened drinks should immediately be considered as not approved to purchase with LINK. Just admit you need something new to tax.

  14. - 47th Ward - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 1:50 pm:

    Maybe someone should introduce a filing fee for new legislation, say $1,000 per bill, refundable only if the bill is signed into law.

    That might cut down on some of this stuff.

  15. - Irish - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 1:51 pm:

    Wasn’t there a soda pop tax that passed back in the 80’s? I think it had more to do with money for clean up/disposal of containers, supposedly. I think it was in two phases. PC1 and PC 2. The money went to Park projects, I think. I don’t know if it is still on there or has been repealed. I don’t think it slowed down consumption, though.

  16. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 1:51 pm:

    I favor this only if the folks who do all that soft drink drinking, get free catheters.

  17. - Rufus - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 1:52 pm:

    “would impose a penny-per-ounce surcharge on sugary drinks…”

    So ’sugar-free’ soda would not be taxed..?..

  18. - DuPage - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 1:55 pm:

    @1:28 =a TOOP tax=

    Reminds me of a famous quote I don’t remember who said it.

    “Don’t tax you, don’t tax me, tax the guy behind the tree”.

  19. - Cook County Commoner - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 1:57 pm:

    Sugary? Doesn’t he mean taxing high fructose corn syrup which would get the agriculture lobby, including Illinois corn farmers, worked up?

  20. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 2:02 pm:

    I think this is a great idea since obesity is such a big problem. People’s will power hasn’t changed much over the last 5o years, but our environment certainly has. It’s time to take our environment back and make the healthy choice the easier choice.

  21. - Formerly Known As... - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 2:04 pm:

    @47th Ward - now that is the sort of thinking and proposal Dems, Reps and Indys could all get behind.

  22. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 2:09 pm:

    If healthy lifestyles are the goal, where does one start and stop with such taxes. For example, lets also tax fried food at restaurants - and cooking oils and shortening at the grocery store - and candy - and on and on.

  23. - Jerome Horwitz - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 2:11 pm:

    Senator Hunter. Attention please. $ billions in unpaid bills and pension debt.

  24. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 2:12 pm:

    It ain’t sugar, it’s high-fructose corn syrup.

    Corn is King in the United States. It’s in the pop, you feed it to the hogs and beeves, some states like Illinois make you put it in your car.

    The Corn Lobby rules. Farmers grow it because it’s a no-risk proposition, what with the contrived market and the federales programs like crop insurance.

    Once Mr. Deere made his plow and we dug up the Prairie, you could grow anything in Illinois — apples, vegetables, etc. But Corn and Beans rule because it takes a lot of expensive chemicals and petroleum to make those remarkably neat rows.

  25. - PoolGuy - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 2:26 pm:

    so this wouldn’t affect the bottles of UNsweetened tea, sugar-free red bull, sugar-free Vitamin Water that I occasionally indulge in?

  26. - Liandro - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 2:31 pm:

    Our tax money is used to subsidize sugar and corn (which can be used to make high fructose corn syrup and various junk foods); now they want to tax us because it is making sugar products and corn products too cheap? Oh, and they already tax pop higher than other foods. Just classic.

  27. - DuPage - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 2:39 pm:

    @Jerome Horvitz=pension debt= A good point. It should be made mandatory that any new source of revenue go to pension funds, with prohibiting reducing other state funding of the pensions. We would soon see if they are really concerned with health or more concerned with new money for their own pet projects. Watch how fast these proposals disappear if the sponsors can’t get control of that money.

  28. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 2:43 pm:

    Liandro, lol, it’s the Tobacco Model.

    Encourage production through subsidy, tax it, then allegedly use the proceeds to discourage consumption.

    That’s democracy, daddio. Like the man said, it’s the worst, except for all the other alternatives.

  29. - High Tax - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 3:03 pm:

    In a way this was done already when pop was moved from the low sales tax (food and medicine) to high tax category. So it actually has been done in the past. This would just add to it.

  30. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 3:05 pm:

    Sugar and especially sugared drinks are the new tobacco- giving people heart disease, diabetes and causing obesity. This idea produces the funding we need to invest in healthy school lunches, PE, walking paths, AND has a health benefit in and of itself, just like tobacco taxes.

  31. - Beth Fiorini, PHA - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 3:14 pm:

    This is a good way to do 2 things. 1)Pay for preventative public health programs and 2) discourage the consumption of sugar which contributed to diabetes type 2 and cost all of us a lot of money. How is this worse than any other sin tax. I pay taxes to have a drink of alcohol, also not so good for my health. We are in the 21st century and its time to look at the cost of bad habits.

  32. - Logic not emotion - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 3:23 pm:

    Most can probably guess that I tend to be conservative; but I can see this as helping discourage sugary drink consumption which could potentially decrease obesity. I do liken this to the tobacco tax which I do think has had an impact on people smoking.

  33. - So Il M - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 3:33 pm:

    If you want to discourage use.of a product then start with the group who provides the greatest amount of it to people. The government thru the LINK / SNAP Program. If you are worried about the health effects then start with the people you provide it to. If you want something new to tax admit you need more money to spend and have found something to provide that to you.

  34. - Judgment Day - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 3:37 pm:

    I hear the arguments made by the “Goo-Goo” types. They have some merit. But, per typical, they forget this is Illinois, and it’s got to be implemented and administered by Illinois State Government.

    The same state that puts people in charge of DCFS who have some serious ethical issues in their past. Or “The Fisherman” who is soooo stressed out that he needs a couple of months off to go fishing, on the taxpayer dime.

    Maybe we could ‘repurpose’ Squeezy to lead the fight against sugar in soft drinks. Let’s have our governor appoint a ‘Sugary Drink Czar’.

    Let’s not forget, that if we impose a 2 cent tax per container, it’s probably going to end up as a 4 cent overall per container cost, because of all the administrative costs, label change costs, etc.

    Oh, and btw, what are we going to do with technology like Sodastream, and the soon-to-arrive in the marketplace items like soft drinks using ‘cup’ technology (wait for it…). Or what about ‘one use’ packets like Crystal Light or Propel? Would the tax also apply to them?

    Reality has such a terrible impact on all this ‘do gooder’ legislation.

  35. - Formerly Known As... - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 3:56 pm:

    Next up is a new candy tax.

    Kids will have to pay twice the penalty as adults, due to the fact that their still-developing bodies are more susceptible to the harmful effects of sugar in the candy.

    Better yet, no one under age 18 should be allowed to purchase or consume candy.

    It’s for their own good.

  36. - A guy... - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 3:58 pm:

    Time to propose legislation that taxes Sen. Hunter by the word. That’d raise some revenue. At this rate we’ll be taxing Vegans before the end of the decade.

  37. - Formerly Known As... - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 3:58 pm:

    School lunches will also now consist of tofu and protein shakes.

  38. - 3rd Generation Chicago Native - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 4:05 pm:

    As long as their at it tax doughnuts?

    I know they are trying to find money somewhere thinking tax something that is not good for you. It does not appear the sugar tax is generating enough revenue, or decreasing obesity.

    Maybe tax plastic bags? Then people will buy reusable bags?

  39. - Logic not emotion - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 4:11 pm:

    SoIL: I do agree that government funded “food” purchases should be restricted to “healthier foods”. By healthier, I mean basics like milk, eggs, meats, vegetables, etc. (not necessarily organic tofu).

  40. - A guy... - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 4:21 pm:

    If we start taxing doughnuts, we’ll have to reopen the collective bargaining agreement with the…. (better not, they carry guns…legally)

  41. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 4:32 pm:

    Require a doctor-certified statement of one’s weight with each Illinois tax return and tax so much per pound above the height-weight chart for one’s height. I’m joking, but it makes just as little of sense as picking out soft drinks or any other food.

  42. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 4:59 pm:

    What a GREAT idea! I am sure it will fix the problem. After all, look how the cigarette tax stopped people from smoking.

  43. - Cincinnatus - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 5:09 pm:

    Get off my lawn…

  44. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 5:29 pm:

    Two things worth considering:

    First, for consumers, this tax would basically be optional. You don’t want to pay an extra $.12 for a can of coke, then buy diet, or coke zero, or water, or whatever (and be healthier at the same time).

    Second, for vendors, the parallels to tobacco taxes are a good starting point, but this is different in one important way: while tobacco taxes seek to end consumption of cigarettes, a sugary drink tax would seek to shift consumption of drinks (from regular to diet, water, etc.). Shifting consumption as opposed to ending it could blunt any hit to bottlers, transport, retailers, etc.

  45. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 5:47 pm:

    Don’t worry about what goes on in my house. Yours needs plenty of attention. Liberals want to run everybody’s life. Tax armed robbery maybe that will stop too.

  46. - Formerly Known As... - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 5:58 pm:

    === optional ===

    “If you want to drink an original Coke or Pepsi you must pay the state of Illinois extra money”

    That doesn’t sound optional.

  47. - Sir Reel - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 7:30 pm:

    Instead of taxing soda, Congress should eliminate the sugar subsidy. The recently passed farm bill maintains it.

  48. - Just The Way It Is One - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 7:40 pm:

    “It’s only a movie, it’s only a movie–oops–I mean, only a bill, only a bill…!” Taxes, shmaxes. Why not start the Bottle DEPOSIT system–for all Soda bottles, once again, glass or plastic like Il. had years ago (and many States STILL have today) to generate revenue instead?

  49. - Capo - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 8:18 pm:

    Great idea as long as all tax revenue goes to paying the pension debt.

  50. - Hans Sanity - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 8:57 pm:

    I’m convinced soft drinks consumption is more hazardous to the health of Americans and our environment than cannabis; much rather see soft drinks taxed like crazy and cannabis legalized with minimal taxation.

  51. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 10:27 pm:

    Sounds good to me. I was reading a study recently that actually showed that the sugar you drink affects your body differently than the sugar you eat (and directly leads to disease, unlike other sugary foods), so these sugary beverages seem especially bad for you. I think it’s worth paying a bit extra to off-set the health effects of these drinks.

  52. - Judgment Day - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 10:51 pm:

    Maybe the question we need to be asking is if the good Senator is a technophobe. She seems to be bent on taxing new technology applications (see below).

    First, Sen. Ira, now Sen. Mattie. If the Senate Democrats keep up the pace on these types of legislation, they’re going to start to get a reputation as being hostile to technology.

  53. - Anon - Wednesday, Feb 19, 14 @ 3:54 pm:

    This is win-win-win for our state: Reduced consumption, lowered obesity rates AND funding for prevention, where’s there’s currently zip being spent.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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