Ever since the Cook County Board of Commissioners passed the penny-per-ounce tax on soda and other sweetened beverages in November 2016, a coalition of residents, businesses, and other organizations—the Can the Tax Coalition—has been fighting for a repeal. This pushback intensified once the tax went into effect in early August.
According to the coalition, the new beverage tax is sending grocery bills soaring, and 87 percent of voters oppose it. Additionally, a group of legislators in the Illinois House introduced legislation in August that would repeal the tax by prohibiting home rule counties from levying sales taxes on the purchase of sweetened beverages based upon weight or volume.
The tax didn’t gain any popularity after Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle filed a lawsuit seeking $17 million in damages from the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, which had won a temporary restraining order that delayed collection of the tax by a month. (Preckwinkle later withdrew the suit.)
A proposal to repeal the tax is currently before the Cook County Board’s finance committee. The Chicago Tribune reported that passing a repeal would be tough, requiring two commissioners to change their mind to repeal the tax if all 17 were in attendance. Preckwinkle would also be likely to issue a veto if the repeal vote did pass.