All Washington soda drinkers could be taxed

The new soda tax in Seattle might be just the beginning as an effort to take the tax statewide continues in Olympia.

House Bill 1975 was introduced last February. It's floated around the finance committee ever since, not moving any further. But on Jan. 8, a resolution was passed to reintroduce the bill. It is strikingly similar to Seattle's soda tax law, referencing the health effects of sugar consumption, from tooth decay to obesity. It also notes minorities see twice as many advertisements for sugary drinks.

Also like Seattle, HB 1975 aims to place a tax on distributors. That tax will likely be passed along to customers. The tax is proposed to be 2 cents per fluid ounce, more than Seattle's 1.75 cents per fluid ounce. Seattle's tax rate nearly doubled the price of sugary drinks at Costco. For example, a $15.99 case of Gatorade has an additional $10.34 sugar tax in Seattle.

And again, like Seattle, the bill orders that a study should be conducted to determine the impact of the tax.

But unlike Seattle’s soda tax, the House bill aims to tax diet drinks, too. It exempts a few drinks, including: beverages with milk as a primary ingredient; drinks for medical use; meal replacement liquids; infant formulas; sweetened medications; 100 percent natural vegetable and fruit juices; alcoholic beverages; and syrups and diet syrups intended for home use.

Half of the funds obtained from the proposed tax are slated to be deposited in a public health supplement fund. The other half would go to the education legacy trust fund.

The House bill has 12 sponsors, all Democrats, including:

  • Rep. Laurie Jinkins, 27th District (Tacoma)
  • Rep. June Robinson, 38th District (Everett)
  • Rep. Beth Doglio, 22nd District (Olympia)
  • Rep. Monica Stonier, 49th District (Vancouver)
  • Rep. Eileen Cody, 34th District (Vashon Island, Seattle)
  • Rep. Gerry Pollet, 46th District (Seattle, Lake City, Kenmore)
  • Rep. Laurie Dolan, 22nd District (Olympia)
  • Rep. Marcus Riccelli, 3rd District (Spokane)
  • Rep. Nicole Macri, 43rd District (Seattle)
  • Rep. Strom Peterson, 21st District (Edmonds, Mukilteo)
  • Rep. Timm Ormsby, 3rd District (Spokane)
  • Rep. Ruth Kagi, 32nd District (Shoreline, Lynnwood)

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