Soda Taxes, Pitchfork Fishing: A Look at New Laws for 2017 – The Wall Street Journal

In cities and states across the U.S., the new year brings a flurry of new laws addressing everything from soda consumption and sick leave, to semiautomatic weapons and catfish catching. Here are the highlights:

New Taxes, Higher Taxes

”Soda taxes” are bubbling up. More than a year after Berkeley, Calif., introduced the nation’s first tax on sweetened drinks, other cities are jumping on the bandwagon.

Philadelphia’s 1.5-cent tax on sugary and artificially sweetened drinks has taken effect. Bay Area voters in San Francisco and Oakland also approved a penny-per-ounce tax on sugary beverages, the same rate as Berkeley’s. And Boulder, Colo., residents, approved the nation’s steepest soda levy, at two pennies an ounce—or a $1.35 extra—for a two-liter bottle. Those taxes are taking effect in coming months.

“They represent a new frontier of tax policy,” said Scott Drenkard, director of state projects for the Tax Foundation, a think tank that favors lower taxes. Soda taxes, he said, are “very stark examples of state and local governments using the tax code to influence nutrition choices, which are by definition very personal.”

Supporters of the taxes say the levies encourage people to drink healthier beverages while helping to pay for more public services like education.

It’s getting harder for shoppers to avoid paying local taxes. The company is charging and collecting sales taxes in four more states: Iowa, Louisiana, Nebraska and Utah.

Seven states, including Pennsylvania and Michigan, are raising their gasoline taxes. The two states both approved increases of more than 7 cents a gallon.

A new tax in Portland, Ore., targets “excessive” chief-executive compensation. City lawmakers approved a surtax on public companies that kicks in when CEOs make 100 times or more than the company’s median worker pay. Portland expects the surtax to raise as much as $3.5 million a year.

Illinois is no longer imposing sales taxes on feminine hygiene products such as tampons.