The potential number of propositions Californian voters might have had to vote on in November was 15. However, on Thursday, June 28, the sponsors of three measures withdrew them after the state Legislature approved legislation accomplishing their goals and Gov. Jerry Brown agreed to sign the bills.
Soft-drink manufacturers were upset with local governments. They were opposed to recent and future impositions of local taxes on sodas. Consequently, they spent millions to get a proposed proposition eligible for the fall ballot. The measure would have required all new state and local taxes and fees to be approved by two-thirds of the voters.
This would apply to any taxes, not just on soda. So, the Idyllwild Fire Protection District commission passed a resolution earlier in the week opposing the proposed measure because of possible implications on its future parcel-fee measure.
The Legislature approved Assembly Bill 1838 to prohibit the increase or levy of a tax or fee on groceries through 2030. It also repeals or rescinds any increases enacted after Jan. 1, 2018.
In signing the bill, Brown noted that only four out of 482 cities in the state were considering a soda tax. Nevertheless, he wrote, “Mayors from countless cities have called to voice their alarm and to strongly support the compromise which this bill represents.”
State Sen. Jeff Stone opposed the bill and referred to it as another deal with special interests. He offered his respect to the proponents of the tax, especially as a means to help reduce child obesity.
On Monday, July 2, the California Medical Association and the California Dental Association announced that they would sponsor an effort to place an initiative on the November 2020 ballot to restore a statewide tax on sugar-sweetened drinks. The associations estimated that this tax would raise $1.7 billion.
“In the face of growing public support for local health taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages, the billion-dollar global soda industry last week put corporate profits ahead of public health and forced an ultimatum upon the leadership of California’s state government,” said Dustin Corcoran, CMA chief executive officer, and Carrie Gordon, CDA chief strategy officer, in a statement released with the announcement.
“Big Soda may have won a cynical short-term victory but, for the sake of our children’s health, we cannot and will not allow them to undermine California’s long-term commitment to health care and disease prevention,” they added, describing their goal.
Another measure would have established very strong privacy measures in California. With the passage of Assembly Bill 375, its sponsors withdrew the proposition.
The new state law allows individuals to request what data has been collected about them, to whom it has been shared and deletion.
“Today, the California Legislature made history by passing the most comprehensive privacy law in the country,” said Sen. Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys), the senate sponsor of the bill. “We in California are continuing to push the envelope on technology and privacy issues by enacting robust consumer protections — without stifling innovation.”
The third measure withdrawn involved responsibility and liability for lead paint. A court decision last fall held Sherwin-Williams and Conagra liable for cleanup costs on homes built before 1951.
The paint companies withdrew the measure and three Assembly bills were put on hold.
“While this agreement will protect taxpayers and voters from having to bear the multi-billion-dollar burden created by lead paint, let’s not forget that the real issue here is getting lead paint out of homes,” Assemblymember Tim Grayson (D-Concord) said in the press release announcing the measure’s withdrawal.