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I-1634, a ban on local soda and grocery taxes, approved

UPDATED: Tue., Nov. 6, 2018, 10:06 p.m.

Local governments looking for more tax money will have to look somewhere else than soda.

Initiative 1634, which would ban cities and counties from placing new taxes on sugary drinks or other grocery items, seemed likely to pass Tuesday night as ballots from around the state were being counted.

I-1634 could best be described as a prophylactic measure. It will prevent other local governments from levying taxes like the Seattle soda tax, although none are currently on the horizon and it does not repeal the Seattle measure.

The yes campaign staked its pitch on preventing cities or counties from passing taxes on all groceries, and cited the negative effect that would have on working families. In fact, supporters were unable to point to a single instance of a local tax that targeted meat, vegetables, fruit or other items in a grocery basket that weren’t tied to soda or sugary drinks.

Of the $20 million raised by Yes on Affordable Groceries campaign, all but about $23,000 came from big soda companies like Coca Cola, Pepsi and Dr Pepper, or Red Bull. The campaign had no contributions from individual Washington residents, but enjoyed support from many of the state’s business groups.

Against the onslaught of soda money, opponents raised about $33,000, mainly from groups like the Child Obesity Prevention Coalition and the American Cancer Society, for some online advertising.


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