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Article of Interest - School Nutrition

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Bridges4Kids LogoBernero Preparing Bill to Tax Pop
Gongwer News Service, November 26, 2003
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Legislation that would tax bottled and canned soft drinks sold in grocery stores will be introduced shortly after the Legislature returns to session next week, said Sen. Virg Bernero (D-Lansing). The measure, if adopted, could raise as much as $100 million.

But a soft drink industry spokesperson said the constitution must be changed, not statute, to tax such beverages. Soft drinks are a food, said William Lobenherz of the Michigan Soft Drink Association, and as such meet the constitutional definition exempting them from sales taxes.

Mr. Bernero, who has targeted the industry before with legislation to require milk vending machines alongside soda pop machines in schools, said soft drinks have no nutritional value and therefore should not be eligible for the exemption.

"Everyone knows we need the revenue," Mr. Bernero said. "My colleagues have been willing to vote for other sin taxes. Pop may not be a sin, but it doesn't do anything for you."

But Mr. Lobenherz said soft drinks contain three of the seven nutrients science considers vital to life, namely water, carbohydrates and phosphorus. Therefore, they are a food, he said.

Statistics collected during the 1990s also indicate that taxing soft drinks will affect lower-income families more than upper income families, Mr. Lobenherz said.

Fountain soft drinks, such as those sold at restaurants, are subject to sales tax, Mr. Lobenherz said.

    

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