State Lawmakers File Brief Against Soda Tax

Three lawmakers from Philadelphia — state Sen. Anthony H. Williams, state Rep. Angel Cruz, and state Rep. Martina White — signed on.

Sodas for sale in a refrigerated case

Photo by Marlith (license)

Thirty-six state lawmakers have signed on to a brief opposing Philadelphia’s soda tax in Commonwealth Court. The Inquirer reported on Monday that the five state senators and 31 state representatives include three Philadelphia lawmakers: state Sen. Anthony H. Williams, state Rep. Angel Cruz, and state Rep. Martina White.

The beverage industry sued Philadelphia late last year over the soda tax, which applies a 1.5-cent-per-ounce tax to all sweetened beverage products sold within city limits. While the tax is applied to distributors, most retail outlets are passing the cost on to consumers. A judge threw out the lawsuit, but an appeal is pending.

“Appellee and other cash-strapped cities such as Harrisburg, Chester, and Williamsport, will use the Appellee’s tax as a way to increase their revenues by arguing that the tax is placed at the distribution point,” the brief reads. “It is not unrealistic to expect that next year there will be a ‘candy tax’ based upon volume in Philadelphia, a sweetened beverage tax based upon volume in Harrisburg, and a ‘snack/cookie tax’ based upon volume in another cash-strapped city.”

Williams, who lost to Mayor Jim Kenney in the Democratic mayoral primary in 2015, told the Inquirer his opposition to the tax is not political, but that it falls primarily on the poor.