Asm. Bloom to Introduce SSB Tax Bill Next Year, Ballot Initiative Announced

Assembly Member Richard Bloom announced this week his intent to introduce a bill in next year’s legislative session to assess a “health impact fee” on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) to fund obesity and diabetes prevention programs. Also this week, the California Dental Association (CDA) and the California Medical Association (CMA) filed an initiative for the November 2020 ballot to create a statewide tax on SSBs.

These announcements are in response to last week’s budget budget negotiations and activities. Recall, the Legislature passed and Governor Brown signed into law AB 1838. The measure bans the ability of local jurisdictions to impose new taxes on groceries, which by definition includes SSBs, until 2031. The trailer bill was the result of a deal negotiated by labor and the California Business Roundtable to stop the “Tax Fairness, Transparency, and Accountability Act of 2018” initiative slated for the November 2018 ballot. The initiative, if passed, would have required a two-thirds approval by voters or the local elected body for a local tax or fee increase. The passage of this initiative would have inhibited local governments from imposing taxes or fees and could have had a significant impact on local revenues, both existing and new.