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Update from the California State Capitol

May 17th was an important deadline at the State Legislature.  This was the last day the Assembly could hear legislation to overturn the statewide law that limits our local communities from acting on sugary drink taxes.  You may recall when the law taking away our local government’s rights passed in 2018, the measure was described by the Los Angeles Times as “extortion.”  To say we are disappointed to have missed the chance to restore control to our local communities, is an understatement.

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In response to this missed opportunity, public health groups, including the American Heart Association united as Californians for Less Soda spoke out against the tactics of soda companies in response to a Kaiser Health News report showing about $5.9 million in lobbying and contributions specifically made by the beverage industry.  In the report, Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian said the soda industry was “gaming” the political system.

In a news release on May 17th Californians for Less Soda praised the courage of Assemblymember Nazarian, who along with Assembly Health Committee Chair Jim Wood and Assemblymembers David Chiu, Kevin McCarty and Richard Bloom, and Senator Scott Weiner, introduced legislation (AB 1163), which would restore the ability for our local communities to act to help reduce sugary drink consumption.   

Eric Batch, Western States Vice President of Advocacy with the American Heart Association and a founding member of Californians for Less Soda, said, “The national dialogue right now has focused on holding those accountable who abuse and harm our communities, and that includes big soda. We are inspired by the courage of Assemblymember Nazarian and these five brave coauthors who are willing to keep fighting a soda industry, which spends millions of dollars in our State on predatory marketing campaigns that target communities of color and target our kids.  This isn’t just a health issue. It is also a social justice issue as AB 1163 would have allowed power to be restored at the local level.”

While this important deadline at the Legislature has come and gone, our resolve to continue this fight to restore local power will continue.  The voices of advocates will be critically important to ensuring our success as we stand tall against soda companies and work to build healthier communities.

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