Thursday, September 17, 2009

Soda Tax bills still alive

A proposed tax on soft drinks is currently a national issue. Soda consumption leads to obesity, especially child obesity according to the New England Journal of Medicine (although that should be no surprise to anyone.) Lawmakers are considering the tax on soda as one way to pay for healthcare reform. President Obama said it's worth exploring. See this NY Times article on the subject.

The idea is not new in Hawaii. During the 2009 session, Rep. Marilyn Lee introduced HB438 which proposes a tax on all soft drinks containing a certain percentage of sugar (to be determined) sold in the state. This does NOT include diet soda. The money would be used for community health centers and for public awareness on the importance of healthy lifestyles.

Rep. Marcus Oshiro also introduced HB1505 which proposes a tax on soda and syrup, with monies to go into the general fund.

Both bills stalled early in the 2009 session and were carried over to 2010. With the national attention on a soda tax and healthcare reform, the bills may be dusted off for reconsideration.

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