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Taxing soda tops new discussions for legislature
Nebraska lawmakers will have a lot on their plate when they return to Lincoln for the start of the next legislative session in a few days. One of the big topics of discussion will be the budget.
But there will also be a discussion on a very different issue, soda. Basically the bill deals with taxes. Soda is considered a food, which is tax-exempt when purchased in a grocery store. But this bill would eliminate soft drinks from being exempt.
It's all in an effort to make healthy living a priority.
The chairman of the Nebraska Medical Association Public Health Committee says by ending the exemption on soft drinks, an estimated $11 million could help roll out an anti-childhood obesity, health living program.
Bob Rauner, who practices medicine in Lincoln, says the money generated from the sale of pop, could create wellness programs in Nebraska public schools.
For instance in Kearney, the percentage of obese kids in Kearney Public Schools went down by 13 percent during a seven-year focus on healthy living.
Soda, one of the big culprits.
"There is no nutritional value what so ever in pop," said Registered Dietitian Pat McCoy.
McCoy agrees with the tax.
"I think it should be taxed because now we're getting into the whole controversy of taxing junk food, what's a junk food," said McCoy.
But it's not all about money, it's also about health.
"We are now facing the fact that our children, we will outlive our children, because the health complications that are starting to arise from obesity and there's a strong, or growing correlation of the heavy use of sweeteners," said McCoy.
McCoy says the tax will affect consumption, but only for a short time.
"It's just like cigarettes, it's taken a long time, but that impact of that tax and messaging to people of the impact of smoking it's taken a drop, but it's starting to come back up again with different age groups," McCoy said.
Lincoln Senator Bill Avery is sponsoring this bill.
A similar measure was introduced in the Revenue Committee last year, but never reached the floor.
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