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Washington voters block future taxes on soda

Initiative 1634 blocks future taxes on grocery items, including soda, in Washington state.
Credit: Justin Sullivan
Bottles of Pepsi are displayed on a shelf at a convenience store on February 13, 2018 in San Anselmo, California. (Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Washington voters approved Initiative 1634 Tuesday, which largely blocks future soda taxes in Washington state.

About 55.1 percent of voters approved I-1634, which is nicknamed “Yes! To Affordable Groceries,” as of Thursday evening.

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The initiative, which was launched in response to Seattle’s recently approved sugary drinks tax, does not repeal previously passed soda taxes. However, Seattle will not be able to increase its tax or adjust it for inflation.

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The initiative also takes aim at future grocery taxes that could come in the form of a locally determined “privilege tax,” although supporters acknowledge they do not know of any municipalities considering a tax on basic groceries.

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Supporters argue the initiative combats regressive taxes that hurt consumers and small business.

Opponents say the initiative takes away decision-making from cities and towns and eliminates an option to tax food items linked to obesity.

FACT CHECK: Claims in ad supporting I-1634

I-1634 raised over $20 million, most of which came from major soda companies. Top donors include The Coca-Cola Co. with more than $9.6 million, PepsiCo, Inc. with nearly $7.3 million and Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, Inc. with more than $3 million.

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