Cook County soda tax would be banned under new state proposal

A Schaumburg state representative has introduced legislation that would prevent counties from taxing soda or sweetened beverages as Cook County has begun to do.

Democrat Michelle Mussman of Schaumburg filed the bill this week as lawmakers returned to Springfield for a special session focused on education funding.

Mussman's bill would amend the state's county code to prevent any home rule or non-home rule county from imposing a retailers occupation tax, use tax, sales tax or other tax on sweetened beverages. It would also eliminate any taxes on sweetened beverages that are currently in place.

“We're taxing the people to death,” said state Rep. Marty Moylan, a Des Plaines Democrat and co-sponsor of the legislation. “People enjoy having soda. ... There's other ways to raise revenue.”

The penny-per-ounce Cook County tax on sweetened bottled and fountain beverages went into effect Aug. 2 after a legal challenge delayed its original July 1 onset.

Moylan said the tax is hurting the local economy and causing people to buy soda and other beverages in other counties outside Cook County.

Twelve lawmakers, both Democrats and Republicans, are co-sponsors of the bill, which is before the House Revenue and Finance Committee.

Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle issued a statement to the Daily Herald calling the move “a vast state government overreach that infringes on the rights of municipalities to govern themselves.”

To introduce such a measure, Preckwinkle continued, “is ironic coming from politicians who spent 736 days bickering among themselves instead of doing right by Illinoisans and passing a responsible budget in a timely fashion.”

She has said the tax will raise a needed $200 million a year for the county.

Moylan said he believes the bill has a good chance of passing by the end of the year, thanks to strong bipartisan support.

State Rep. David McSweeney, a Barrington Hills Republican, said he feels residents of the state are being overtaxed, between a recent increase to the individual and corporate income tax rates and property tax increases on the local level.

Republican state Rep. Michael McAuliffe of Chicago also filed a similar bill on Tuesday.

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