California Senate panel hits the brakes on oil, soda taxes
Bills proposing new taxes on oil and soda in California were shelved for the year by a state Senate panel on Thursday, but the measures’ authors say they plan to pursue approval of them in January.
The Senate Appropriations Committee also kept a hold on a proposed $2-per-pack cigarette tax, but the measure by Sen. Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) has an urgency clause so it can still be taken up this summer.
“Right now we need to focus on passing the budget,” said De León, the panel’s chairman. “Immediately after that I will work very hard on getting the tobacco tax to the Senate floor because it’s not fair to the taxpayers to have to foot the bill for tobacco-related diseases that cost the state of California nearly $3 billion per year.”
The committee also approved a De León bill that would charge ammunition purchasers a fee of up to $50 to conduct a background check determining whether they are prohibited from owning guns because of a criminal record or mental illness.
Other bills were shelved because there is a need to control costs, he said.
Sen. Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa) said she would turn her oil severance tax bill into a two-year measure that can be taken back up in January. The measure would raise $2 billion a year for education and state parks with a 9.5% tax on oil pumped from the ground in California, including when hydraulic fracturing or fracking is used.
“It’s not going away,” she said about SB 241. “If we as a state are going to expand fracking operations, we ought to tax it.”
Sen. Bill Monning (D-Carmel) said he also will not give up on his SB 622, which would put a penny-an-ounce tax on sweetened drinks including soda to help pay for childhood obesity prevention programs.
“I remain committed to enacting SB 622, as it will improve children’s lives and significantly reduce the amount Californians will pay to treat chronic diseases,” Monning said in a statement.