Whoops! Soda Tax Petition Signatures in San Francisco Come in One Day Late

May 12, 2016

Today, AP is reporting that an effort to put a soda tax on the ballot in San Francisco has experienced a setback as the organizers missed a deadline to turn in signatures by one day.

…elections director John Arntz, whose office verifies the signatures, said the campaign missed the deadline to submit those signatures.

The campaign called the mishap a "technical error," and vowed to continue the fight against soda companies whose products they say contribute to obesity, diabetes and a host of other health ills.

[City] Supervisors can place a measure on the ballot or soda tax supporters can also choose to circulate another petition and collect the 9,485 signatures needed by July 11.

Berkeley, California, became the first city in the country to approve a soda tax, in 2014. That year, a San Francisco campaign for a sugary drink tax failed at the ballot, as it did not get the two-thirds approval needed for a dedicated tax.

This year's proposal for a general tax of one cent per ounce needs a simple majority to pass.

The proposal for a statewide soda tax in California failed in legislative committee earlier in April. A similar local proposal will be on the ballot in Oakland, California in November, though my understanding is that City Council put that measure on the ballot and it was not as a result of a petition. As mentioned above, Berkeley, California already has such an excise tax.

As we note in our comprehensive report on soda taxes, these measures do not tend to result in the health outcomes proponents often claim, they are a highly regressive tax, and they introduce further complexity into the tax code.

Be sure to read our recent post on Philadelphia’s proposed soda tax, which would tax soda at 48 times the rate of beer.

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