Assemblymember Jim Wood Says Soda Industry is Extorting Our Local Governments
Deal struck between the beverage industry and SEIU is handed off to Legislature
SACRAMENTO–Today the Assembly and Senate voted on a budget bill, AB 1838, which was handed off to them as the result of an outside deal struck between the beverage industry and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).
“Extortion is defined as the practice of obtaining something through force or threats,” said Assemblymember Jim Wood (D-Santa Rosa). “That’s what’s happening this week and the bad actors are the beverage industry. And the way they’re doing it is outrageous.”
This is one of many comments Wood made on the Assembly Floor. His entire speech can be found here.
The Tax Fairness, Transparency and Accountability Act of 2018, an initiative that has qualified for the November ballot, and sponsored by the beverage industry, would make it very difficult for local governments to increase taxes and fees by requiring them to pass by a two-thirds majority.
“Many members of SEIU who are employed by local governments are the same people who understand the importance of adequately funding local services like park districts, public transportation, after-school programs and public libraries and they saw this initiative as a threat to the work they do and the quality of life in their communities,” said Wood. “As a result, they supported a legislative fix struck with the beverage industry that would put a 12-year moratorium specifically on local taxes or fees on soda, food packaging, wrapping and containers in exchange for the industry dropping the initiative.”
Local governments, with the support of its voters and public health advocates, have successfully enacted soda taxes in several California communities and those taxes are working – soda consumption is down. “As a dentist, I know how damaging soda is to a person’s oral health and overall health and the cost to our health care system,” said Wood. “Because these efforts have been so successful, the beverage industry has come in, full force, to stop this forward progress by threatening labor and forcing them to take sides, and that’s exactly what they’re doing.”
With the leaders in both the Senate and Assembly voicing their support, the bill passed and was sent immediately to the Governor, fulfilling the deal, and pulling the initiative off the November ballot.
“Like I said, it’s outrageous,” Wood stated.
Assemblymember Jim Wood (D- Santa Rosa) represents the 2nd Assembly District, which includes all of Del Norte, Trinity, Humboldt and Mendocino counties, plus northern and coastal Sonoma County, including the northern half of Santa Rosa.