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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: December 6, 2017 08:27 AM
From: Representative Mark Mustio
To: All House members
Subject: Soda Tax Preemption Legislation
In the near future, I will introduce legislation to preempt local taxation of sweetened beverages in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The legislation will be designed to prohibit any municipality from levying such a tax while also invalidating the current soda tax in Philadelphia.

While there is no question that the goals of funding Pre-K and rebuilding city assets in Philadelphia are laudable and should be pursued, it is my belief that the beverage tax levy has proven to be an extreme burden on retailers, especially grocery and convenience stores in the city. Over the past two decades, Philadelphia has gone from having one of the worst “food desert” problems in the nation to being a true leader in providing fresh foods to some of the poorest neighborhoods. The imposition of this unfair tax is threatening those efforts in a very real way, with some grocery stores reporting as much as a 20% drop in overall revenue since its inception. To avoid the tax, supermarket customers are purchasing their food and beverages right over city borders. In the grocery industry, a revenue drop of this magnitude is very difficult to overcome. If the tax stays in place, it is not inconceivable that stores may begin to close, which would be a tragedy for people living in those neighborhoods.

In addition, it has already become clear that the soda tax revenues have not hit the city’s estimates, and probably will not achieve the goals that were intended.

It is incumbent upon Philadelphia elected officials to go back to the table and come up with real, predictable, and fair funding for pre-K programs and capital improvements. Singling out one economic sector with an unfair tax that is twenty-four times higher than the tax on beer is, at best, nonsensical. It is critical that we help the city maintain access to fresh foods and groceries, while also protecting the thousands of jobs in the industry.

Please join me in co-sponsoring this important legislation.

Introduced as HB2241