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Philly soda tax faces another legal challenge

The American Beverage Association and some local restaurants oppose the city's tax on sweetened drinks.
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A group of Philadelphia restaurants, beverage industry associations and soda consumers have banded together in a renewed fight against the city's soda tax.

Attorneys representing the groups filed a notice of appeal after a judge dismissed the industry's lawsuit against the city and its soda tax earlier this month, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported.

The appeal comes just days before the new year, when the 1.5-cent-per-ounce tax on sweetened beverages will take effect. Pitched by Mayor Jim Kenney, it's intended to fund an array of city programs, and is estimated to bring in more than $90 million a year.

On Dec. 19, Judge Gary Glazer dismissed a complaintfiled in September by the American Beverage Association and several business owners, who argued that the tax was illegal because it was not imposed statewide.

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Glazer said that because the Philadelphia Beverage Tax, commonly called just the soda tax, is not a sales tax it does not violate the state constitution's uniformity clause.

City Solicitor Sozi Pedro Tulante said in a statement Tuesday that the appeal was anticipated but added he is confident the city "will prevail" and the tax will remain.

After Glazer's recent ruling, the mayor urged the suit be abandoned: "I urge the soda industry to accept the judge’s ruling and do the right thing for the children of Philadelphia, many of whom struggle in the chilling grip of pervasive poverty." He added that the industry "has chosen not to challenge beverage taxes in other municipalities and there is no reason to continue pursuing it here."

 
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