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Judge clears the way for Cook County pop tax

Friday, Jul 28, 2017

* Not much else to do today, so here’s the Daily Herald

Cook County Judge Daniel Kubasiak cleared the path Friday for Cook County’s penny-per-ounce soda tax to take effect.

Kubasiak initially sided with opponents of the tax because of hardships placed on consumers seeking refunds if the law was found to be unconstitutional. He granted a restraining order June 30 to prevent implementation of the tax.

He said Friday, however, that there’s nothing constitutionally that prevents implementation of the tax and the exercise of the county’s home rule powers. He said the tax “provides a person of ordinary intelligence a reasonable opportunity to understand what is required” and is “sufficiently detailed and specific to preclude arbitrary enforcement.” […]

County officials had projected the tax would raise about $200 million over the next 12 months, and expected $67.5 million in the remainder of the fiscal year to help cover costs. Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle ordered staff reductions and other budget cuts in the wake of the judge’s order, since the county was relying on revenue from the tax to cover those costs. The county laid off about 300 workers and the sheriff’s office laid off more than 110 recruits and trainees, according to officials.

* Sun-Times

Last week, county lawyers argued Illinois law permits differential taxation, which refers to the fact that the tax applies to some beverages and not others. The tax, they also argued, is needed to address concerns surrounding public health.

“Drinks that are widely available pose a greater risk to public health,” said county attorney Kent Ray. “We don’t believe there can be any rebuttal to the position that ready-made beverages and custom-made beverages are different from a public health perspective.”

Attorneys representing the merchants argued there was no substantial difference in how sweetened beverages are classified, making the tax unfairly vague for consumers and distributors.

“The [differences between the] sweetened beverages that are taxed and the sweetened beverages that are not taxed are not real substantial differences,” David Ruskin, an attorney for the retailers, said.

* From the the Illinois Public Health Institute and the Illinois Alliance to Prevent Obesity…

We are gratified that the judge rejected the unfounded arguments for a delay in implementing this optional tax that will benefit our county’s fiscal health and our communities’ physical well-being. The sooner people stop drinking sweetened beverages, the sooner we expect to see a decline in the chronic diseases caused by too much sugar.

…Adding… IRMA…

The Illinois Retail Merchants Association, on behalf of Cook County retailers, has issued the following statement regarding the Circuit Court of Cook County’s decision to grant the county’s motion to dismiss the retailers’ lawsuit against the sweetened beverage tax.

“We are disappointed with today’s ruling. We are exploring all legal options,” said Rob Karr, president and CEO of IRMA.

…Adding More… Preckwinkle…

Statement from Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle on Judge Kubasiak’s Ruling Dismissing the Sweetened Beverage Tax Lawsuit

We applaud today’s decision by Judge Kubasiak granting our motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s lawsuit challenging the sweetened beverage tax. We believed all along that our ordinance was carefully drafted and met pertinent constitutional tests. The delay in implementing the tax caused by the merchants’ lawsuit forced us to put into motion cost-saving measures to cope with this revenue loss, which currently is at least $17 million. Until we are able to fully implement and collect revenues from this tax, we will continue to review our financial position and make adjustments accordingly. The ordinance was approved last November and all retailers and distributors should have been prepared to collect the tax on July 1. The tax should be collected at the consumer level beginning on Aug 2. We are especially grateful to our legal team and the attorneys from the State’s Attorney’s office for the hard work that led to this decision.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Anonymous - Friday, Jul 28, 17 @ 2:21 pm:

    County isn’t going to get anywhere close to that budgeted amount.

    I can see a lot of small restaurants and shops not even offer soda anymore because they don’t want to deal with the bureaucracy of the tax.

    And expect to see more gas stations/7-elevens near the county border with “no cook county tax”

  2. - Just Observing - Friday, Jul 28, 17 @ 2:25 pm:

    === The sooner people stop drinking sweetened beverages, the sooner we expect to see a decline in the chronic diseases caused by too much sugar. ===

    So, at least a good chunk of the 1,000 county employees that Preckwinkle claims would have to be laid off without the tax should expect to lose their jobs in the near future anyways?

  3. - JB13 - Friday, Jul 28, 17 @ 2:27 pm:

    Going statewide soon, right?

  4. - Deft Wing - Friday, Jul 28, 17 @ 2:27 pm:

    First Judge Garcia and now this judge — initially daring to buck the Dem/tax & spend way … only to reverse themselves and get back in line.

    Dumb tax.

  5. - lake county democrat - Friday, Jul 28, 17 @ 2:27 pm:

    Yeah, Rauner doesn’t stand a chance of getting reelected with this kind of stuff happening. Especially when the opposition is polling high. It’s not like a liberal state ever revolted against high taxes.

    In addition to the border stores getting business, I wonder if things like Soda Stream machines will become more popular (I don’t know if the syrup is taxed or not, but it’s easier to stockpile those than lots of pop).

  6. - A State Employee Guy - Friday, Jul 28, 17 @ 2:32 pm:


    I know we disagree a lot in these comments, but c’mon people, we all know it’s called soda.

  7. - Texas Red - Friday, Jul 28, 17 @ 2:34 pm:

    Good luck with that $200 million revenue target..Taxes by definition increase the price of anything they are attached to, a higher price means lower demand.

  8. - Tommydanger - Friday, Jul 28, 17 @ 2:34 pm:

    I’m not marching in protest to such taxes until they tax bacon and then I’ll go hog wild.

  9. - Anonymous - Friday, Jul 28, 17 @ 2:36 pm:

    It violates the uniformity clause and will be ultimately invalidated. If you buy a sugary mocha latte in a cup at Starbucks — not taxed. If you buy that same sugary mocha latte in a bottle at Walgreens — taxed. The ordinance does not treat like things alike, and thus violates the uniformity clause.

  10. - Deadbeat Conservative - Friday, Jul 28, 17 @ 2:37 pm:

    = I can see a lot of small restaurants and shops not even offer soda anymore because they don’t want to deal with the bureaucracy of the tax.=
    Is that why “mom & pop” operations quit selling alcohol and tobacco?

  11. - BuckinIrish - Friday, Jul 28, 17 @ 2:44 pm:

    A State Employee Guy

    I’m gonna guess your from the Western suburbs, those are the only heathens I know that call it soda and not pop

  12. - Trapped in the 'burbs - Friday, Jul 28, 17 @ 2:48 pm:

    This might be a bad deal for Preckwinkle. Hopefully, she gets Boykin or another strong opponent in the primary. She won denouncing Stoger’s tax hike which she repealed and then reinstated. It would fun to see her on the sidelines.

  13. - West Side the Best Side - Friday, Jul 28, 17 @ 2:52 pm:

    The attorneys the States Attorney’s Office let go because of the restraining order were told it was specifically because of that and therefore the need to cut staff. Now that the order was lifted they should be rehired. If not, lawsuit time. Even if it gets invalidated on appeal, until that happens anyone bounced based on the very specific reason given by the SAO would seem to have a good claim to get their job back.

  14. - I don't get it - Friday, Jul 28, 17 @ 2:53 pm:

    If uniformity applied then the seven cents per bag would be invalid. I can bay a bag of coffee at Starbucks and get a free bag but if I buy the Starbuck coffee at a grocery store I pay 7 cents? Why would this be different.

  15. - Just Observing - Friday, Jul 28, 17 @ 2:57 pm:


  16. - NeverPoliticallyCorrect - Friday, Jul 28, 17 @ 2:59 pm:

    Too many thoughts, not enough time. As a western cook resident I have already located where we will buy our “soda” or “pop”. I predict we will not be alone. This will create a disparate impact with Chicago residents being hit the hardest and the Dept. of Justice will file a Civil Rights injunction. Just another example of there being nothing the government won’t do to get more money. And we have only ourselves to blame for voting for the same incompetent politicians.

  17. - Anonymous - Friday, Jul 28, 17 @ 2:59 pm:

    Starbucks does charge the fee for bags. Even Macy’s does for shopping bags.

  18. - tsavo - Friday, Jul 28, 17 @ 3:01 pm:

    While the county’s law would require the cost of the tax to be passed on to consumers, distributors of the sweetened drinks would be responsible for paying the county. Retailers would be charged a tax on how much drink that soda syrup will ultimately make. That means because a 640-ounce bag of syrup — five gallons — makes 3,840 ounces of soda when mixed with carbonated water, retailers would be charged $38.40 more in taxes for that bag of syrup.

  19. - Anonymous - Friday, Jul 28, 17 @ 3:02 pm:

    All those on SNAP (food stamps)in Cook County, will not be affected by the tax, since they are not taxed on SNAP purchases. How is this law helping them stay healthy?

  20. - Watson - Friday, Jul 28, 17 @ 3:03 pm:

    ## those are the only heathens I know that call it soda ##

    Along with most of the rest of the state.

  21. - Arock - Friday, Jul 28, 17 @ 3:04 pm:

    Corrupt politicians for the win again. Way to watch out for the little guys health (really they just needed more tax money to run their system and this is one of those feel good taxes) and pass one more of those regressive taxes that you are always harping is the wrong thing to do.

  22. - Sue - Friday, Jul 28, 17 @ 3:05 pm:

    We now know this has nothing to do with public health- solely another tax to help pay for pension liabilities. If it moves Chicago/Cook need to find a way to tax it

  23. - Robert the Bruce - Friday, Jul 28, 17 @ 3:11 pm:

    Merchants seem confused by this. My local Jewel had signs on the diet coke saying they’d be taxed soon.

    And I’m confused as to why poor people’s regular coke is taxed while rich folks’ equally sugary Starbucks isn’t.

  24. - Texas Red - Friday, Jul 28, 17 @ 3:12 pm:

    As with cigarettes and gas taxes, the retailers just outside the county line will benefit by selling cheaper soda/pop.

  25. - A guy - Friday, Jul 28, 17 @ 3:13 pm:

    ==He said the tax “provides a person of ordinary intelligence==

    Oh my Judge. The amazing debate that Could be had over the definition of who that “person” is these days. Yikes.

  26. - Rocky Rosi - Friday, Jul 28, 17 @ 3:13 pm:

    Preckwinkle has the power and the juice. I don’t agree with the tax but CC needs the revenue.

  27. - Saluki - Friday, Jul 28, 17 @ 3:15 pm:

    Down here in hillbilly land we call it “Coke” or “sodey pop”

  28. - A State Employee Guy - Friday, Jul 28, 17 @ 3:22 pm:

    Looks like central ILlinoisans and coastal elites are the only ones who pronounce it correctly, according to this highly scientific map:

    How about this: levy the tax on those who butcher the pronunciation as “pap.” I.e, all of Chicagoland. Now THAT’s compromise.

  29. - Anonymous - Friday, Jul 28, 17 @ 3:23 pm:

    === The sooner people stop drinking sweetened beverages, the sooner we expect to see a decline in the chronic diseases caused by too much sugar. ===

    Or, you could take it upon yourself to exercise along with a healthy diet and occasionally enjoy a soda. I enjoy sweetened and even alcoholic beverages from time to time without much fanfare.

    Legislating good behavior rarely works.

  30. - Cook County Commoner - Friday, Jul 28, 17 @ 3:25 pm:

    So my north Cook village added a 2% Food and Beverage Tax on a restaurant meal, bringing the meal tax up to 12.25%. And this is on top of that?

  31. - Gary from Chicagoland - Friday, Jul 28, 17 @ 3:30 pm:

    What happens when I get a free refill of soda at McDonald’s? Do I (or McD’s) have top pay 1 cent per ounce on that refill?

  32. - Perrid - Friday, Jul 28, 17 @ 3:36 pm:

    I am like to go on record as being opposed to the word ‘pop.’ Here in the Great State of Illinois, we call it soda, not ‘pop’ like those heathens in Iowa or ‘coke’ like the barbarians in the South!

    Seriously though, not sure you can get more condescending than saying ‘We are going to tax it to try and force you to be more healthy.’ I literally would feel less patronized to if the city had an out right ban, rather than this pseudo passive aggressive stuff. Not that this affects me, I don’t live in Cook, but still.

  33. - Perrid - Friday, Jul 28, 17 @ 3:37 pm:

    Wow. I *would* like to go on record, my bad lol

  34. - Anonymous - Friday, Jul 28, 17 @ 3:37 pm:

    And if the cup is one third full of ice is the tax reduced?

  35. - CrazyHorse - Friday, Jul 28, 17 @ 3:52 pm:

    ==What happens when I get a free refill of soda at McDonald’s? Do I (or McD’s) have top pay 1 cent per ounce on that refill?==

    Pretty sure it does not apply to fountain beverages purchased in restaurants.

  36. - truthbetold - Friday, Jul 28, 17 @ 3:53 pm:

    It’s pop north of the Illinois-Wisconsin line. In Illinois, its soda

  37. - City Zen - Friday, Jul 28, 17 @ 3:56 pm:

    ==And if the cup is one third full of ice is the tax reduced?==

    Only if the soda does not diminish or impair the ice.

  38. - Anon - Friday, Jul 28, 17 @ 4:02 pm:

    ==It’s pop north of the Illinois-Wisconsin line. In Illinois, its soda==

    This is completely wrong. Most of Illinois, including Chicagoland, it’s pop. Southern Illinois says soda. North of the Illinois/Wisconsin border, the eastern half of Wisconsin says Soda, and the Western half says pop.

  39. - Rich Miller - Friday, Jul 28, 17 @ 4:08 pm:

    ===This is completely wrong.===


    It’s pop. Not soda. Not sodie. Not sodie pop. It’s pop.

  40. - West Side the Best Side - Friday, Jul 28, 17 @ 4:09 pm:

    I’m going to “The Jewels” in DuPage to get my “soda” once the tax goes in effect. (Actually don’t drink that sugary stuff, but do drink Gatorade G2 which is also taxed because it contains 7 grams of sugar per 12oz serving, as opposed to about 50g for a can of “soda pop” but same tax per ounce.)

  41. - West Side the Best Side - Friday, Jul 28, 17 @ 4:11 pm:

    And you can buy it at “The Jewels” outside of Cook County.

  42. - crazybleedingheart - Friday, Jul 28, 17 @ 4:16 pm:

    ==All those on SNAP (food stamps)in Cook County, will not be affected by the tax, since they are not taxed on SNAP purchases. How is this law helping them stay healthy?==

    By not starving them for the sake of tax collection.

  43. - Streator Curmudgeon - Friday, Jul 28, 17 @ 4:20 pm:

    I can remember as a kid when we made our own root beer.

    Will this result in a flurry of home (pop) brewers or folks buying those fancy fizz machines?

    Could usher in a new “Al Capop” in Chicago.

  44. - West Side the Best Side - Friday, Jul 28, 17 @ 4:33 pm:

    Didn’t mean to send 2 comments about the Jewels. Though the first got lost in the ether or where ever it is Say It comments go when they don’t appear right away or ever.

  45. - Back to the Mountains - Saturday, Jul 29, 17 @ 10:45 am:

    ==If you buy a sugary mocha latte in a cup at Starbucks — not taxed. If you buy that same sugary mocha latte in a bottle at Walgreens — taxed.==

    Using that logic, few taxes would pass a uniformity analysis. The plastic bag tax would be invalidated because it does not apply to paper bags, despite both having the same function. The bottle tax would also be unconstitutional because it does not apply to cans. The uniformity analysis, as with most of constitutional law, is a whole lot squishier than you believe it to be.

    ==Down here in hillbilly land we call it “Coke” or “sodey pop”==
    2nd on that. A relative that lives in Union County had to explain this to me once, because when I went to visit and asked for a Coke (meaning the brand), it turned into a version of who’s on first.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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