DC council member withdraws soda tax proposal amid pushback

A city council member in Washington, D.C., is withdrawing her proposal for a soda tax amid pushback from various groups.

D.C. Council member Brianne Nadeau introduced the Nutrition Equity Amendment Act of 2021 in late March, which would have repealed the state’s current 8 percent sales tax on sugar drinks and replaced it with an excise tax of 1.5 cents per ounce on the distribution of sugary drinks.

The measure also sought to increase access to healthier foods in D.C. shelters and transitional housing facilities.

Nadeau said in a statement on Friday that she was withdrawing the proposal after it lacked the support needed to advance.

“While I am proud of the diverse coalition of people leading this effort in the community, I recognize there is not enough support to move this legislation forward,” she said.

“While the beverage industry and corporations continue to stand in the way of community-based solutions to address health disparities, it is my hope that the discussions around food as medicine, nutrition education, and food literacy for our children continue, and I stand ready to fight for and invest in nutrition equity.”

I have decided to withdraw the Nutrition Equity Act. While I am so proud of the diverse coalition of people leading this effort in community, I recognize that there is not enough support to move the legislation forward. pic.twitter.com/GAfCC3GaN2

— Brianne K. Nadeau (@BrianneKNadeau) June 11, 2021

The measure was an effort to address health inequities that were highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic.

But during the bill’s first public hearing last month that lasted seven hours, several small business owners spoke out against the bill, WTOP News reported at the time.

The Alliance for a Stronger D.C., a coalition of residents, small-business owners and neighborhood organizations, thanked Nadeau for withdrawing the “regressive” proposal in a statement on Friday.

“Our diverse coalition of working families, small business owners, faith organizations and labor leaders raised their voices to share the devastating economic consequences a new tax would have on DC residents, especially as our community begins to recover from the pandemic,” the group said.

No state has imposed a per-ounce soda tax, according to the Urban Institute, though a handful of U.S. cities have levied the taxes.