Soda pop tax

Monday is my day to scout editorial ideas to pitch to The Desert Sun editorial board on Tuesdays. I review the previous week’s worth of papers, scroll the Associated Press and other wires and check on other websites, including newspapers. And I read the latest emails from the League of California Cities and the California Taxpayers Association.
CalTax is a rich source of ideas, often leading to good topics that have yet to blossom in print. For instance, Friday’s report says the Senate Governance and Finance Committee has approved a penny-per-ounce tax on sweetened drinks. That adds up to $1.28 on a gallon of soda. I found this while sipping a Diet Coke.
Considering the reaction to New York City’s attempt to ban Big Gulps and judge’s ruling striking down the ban, I expect this could develop into a quite a talker.
At the hearing last Wednesday, doctors said sodas are the primary reason that many young people are overweight and have health problems. The tax is meant to reduce consumption of non-diet sodas. It also assumes many won’t be able to resist and designates the revenue toward programs to fight obesity.
The Teamsters Union showed up to oppose the bill, because their members make these products. CalTax quotes Sen. Jim Beall, a Democrat who supports the bill, wondering why we should tax just soft drinks. Why not sugar itself?
“In regards to sugar, there are many ways to sin,” Beall said.
As usual, I can see both sides. Childhood obesity is a big problem in the Coachella Valley. If a gallon of soda costs more than $1 more, maybe more kids will learn to like the unleaded variety. But it also smacks of social engineering by the government, the kind conservatives loathe.
Tell us what you think. Email your thought to letters@thedesertsun.com. You might help us craft our editorial.

Health Matters 2013: Coachella Valley as ‘ground zero’ for healthy changes

20130115-150244.jpg

The Coachella Valley is “ground zero” for wellness — as proven by an unprecedented partnership with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, Desert Healthcare District Vice President Kay Hazen said Tuesday.

Hazen introduced a panel on “Healthy Communities” at the second-annual “Health Matters: Activating Wellness in Every Generation” conference.

President Bill Clinton is hosting the conference at the La Quinta Resort and Club.

Since the conference last year, the district has partnered with Clinton’s Alliance for a Healthier Generation to fund a full-time healthy schools relationship manager.

Every school in the valley has agreed to create a wellness council, too, and programming will expand to every school over the next four years, Hazen said.

“This is the first time that this opportunity for the Alliance — to reach every school within a confined geographical region — has been to put to the test,” Hazen said.

Hazen thanked the Clinton Foundation for the “inspiration and the support” to make behavioral, policy and systematic changes to fight obesity and related health problems.

“Together, we’ll move the needle in a positive and healthy direction toward wellness,” she said.

The Alliance for a Healthier Generation aims to combat childhood obesity and is a partnership between the Clinton Foundation and the American Heart Association.