October 27, 2017 (Lansing, MI) – NFIB praised Governor Snyder for signing into law NFIB-backed legislation that would prevent any local unit of government from taxing food and beverages. The legislation, House Bill 4999, is now Public Act (PA) 133 of 2017.
“Cities and counties around the country have been enacting so called “pop” or “soda” taxes on beverages that they deem to be ‘unhealthy’,” said NFIB State Director Charlie Owens. “This new law will prevent that kind of bad public policy from happening in Michigan”.
Owens said that the California cities of San Francisco, Oakland, and Albany, as well as Boulder, Colorado, Seattle, Washington, Philadelphia, have all imposed these taxes. Cook County, Illinois had passed a local soda tax and ended up repealing it after push-back from residents and merchants. While no Michigan city or local government had proposed a soda tax, Owens said that it was only a matter of time and preemptive action was needed to protect taxpayers and small business. Owens also said that after pop and soda are taxed the next step would be “unhealthy” food items.
“While local governments and advocates of these taxes want everyone to believe that they are acting in the interest of public health and safety, the real motivation is to raise revenue to fund more local government growth and bureaucracy and to bail out local budget deficits from years of over-spending,” said Owens. “In the case of Cook County, they were not shy about admitting that some of the revenue would be used to offset the burden of unfunded pension liabilities for local government employees.”
Owens also said that Michigan’s sales tax is supposed to be levied at the state level only and any increase in the rate requires a vote of the people. “Allowing locals governments to creep around this by calling it an ‘excise tax’ or a ‘healthy food tax’ – or whatever, is just a ruse to impose a local sales tax,” said Owens.