Election Ballot 2016: Sugar Drink Tax Leaps Over Hurdles to Make Boulder November Ballot

sugar drinksAbout 30 children sat through hours of a Boulder City Council meeting tonight to urge council to move their initiative to November’s ballot.  The council did.

A two-cents per ounce excise tax on sugary drink distributors will be decided by Boulder voters in November.  The tax as written would not be a sales tax on consumers, but the distributor would have the choice whether the tax would be passed on to customers.

Besides a well-funded media campaign against the measure, companies fought against the measure in court and in earlier council sessions as expected by backers of the tax.  Representatives from the Colorado Beverage Association have appeared at council sessions to challenge the wording on circulated petitions and today the Association’s attorney appeared in court to challenge the language as well.

But Twentieth Judicial District Court Judge Norma Sierra disagreed and ruled that circulated petitions were not confusing or misrepresenting.  She denied an appeal as presented by Mark Gelband, a Boulder resident who ran for city council in 2013.

At earlier council meetings, challengers to the measure argued that restrictions outlined by the Colorado Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) passed in the 90s would render the petitions invalid because TABOR requires that neither Colorado as a state nor any Colorado municipality can raise taxes without first getting voter approval.  Instead Boulder City Council decided in July to include protections that would satisfy TABOR requirements into a single ballot title rather than to present voters with two separate ballot measures.

Tonight at Boulder City Council regular session, a group of about 30 children wearing orange t-shirts and holding signs that read “Healthy Boulder Kids” filled the first few rows of public seating.  Jane Harker, a Boulder fifth-grader took to the podium during the public comment portion of the meeting to say, “I’m excited to make people healthy.  I want to make people happy by putting tax on soda and on sugary beverages.”  She told The Nation Report that she first became aware of the dangers of sugary drinks when her parents first attended meetings at the early part of the campaign, “I now realize how dangerous they can be.”  When asked if she was happy about today’s results, “I’m really happy that a lot of people have been working on it, and getting through it and get many signatures but right now what I really want is, I want it to pass.”

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