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Bill reintroduced to push soda tax statewide in Washington

SPOKANE, Wash. - Seattle is trying to discourage people from sipping on soda through a sugary drink tax, and now a bill is being re-introduced to bring that tax statewide. 

The tax adds nearly two cents to every ounce of a sugary drink sold. The bill was first read in February of last year and re-introduced Monday. 

Local representative Marcus Riccelli co-sponsored the bill originally, and said he doesn't believe the bill will go anywhere this year or be brought up for a committee vote. 

But after seeing the effects of the tax in Seattle, some are worried about the tax coming to Spokane. 

Pictures from a Seattle-area Costco have sparked outrage and controversy online. The images show a case of Coke costing an extra nearly $8, and a case of Gatorade going from $16 to more than $26.

Some are worried that if that tax were to come to the rest of the state, it would be bad for local businesses. 

"I understand the reasoning behind it. It just seems like for a business like us, it's just another cost that we're trying to overcome," said Heather Baldwin, the lead bartender at King's Bar & Grill. 

Baldwin says their business relies heavily on soda. "The majority of our drinks are made with soda mix. And then we do have a lot of non-alcoholic drinking people and that's what they choose to drink."

If the tax were passed statewide, it would also include a tax on syrups and powders which restaurants use to make the soda in their machines. 

"It's going to be sent downhill to us, via the retailers upping their prices and then we're going to have to up our prices," Baldwin said. 

Seattle leaders say the tax is a good way to discourage people from drinking soda, which can lead to an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and hypertension. Some here in Spokane agree that's a good thing. 

"It's a great idea, honestly. Sugar is actually one of the worst things that we can put in our body. And so, I think it's a great idea, incorporating the same tax as alcohol," said Spokane resident Jason Prettyman. 

Seattle is expected to make $15 million this year from the tax. It will be using part of the money to help fund a program that provides healthy meals for low-income families. 


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