Cook County commissioners file ordinance to repeal soda tax

Cook County commissioners file ordinance to repeal soda tax

Commissioners from both parties are supporting a repeal effort of the sweetened beverage tax following widespread public outcry.

Several Cook County commissioners have filed an ordinance to repeal the county’s new tax on sweetened beverages.

The ordinance was filed by county Commissioner Sean Morrison, R-Palos Park, and co-sponsored by county Commissioner Richard Boykin, D-Oak Park, county Commissioner John A. Fritchey, D-Chicago, county Commissioner Timothy Schneider, R-Bartlett, and county Commissioner Jeffrey R. Tobolski, D-McCook.

Citing the sweetened beverage tax’s mass unpopularity and implementation problems, Morrison says the ordinance would allow the County Board to reconsider its position.

“A lot of the commissioners we feel may be in a different position on how they’re going to look at this tax, especially now that we’ve seen it enacted,” Morrison told CBS 2 Chicago. “There has just been a public outcry.”

Popularly called the soda tax, Cook County’s new ordinance taxes beverages containing sugar or artificial sweeteners at a rate of a penny per ounce. This rate is over five times higher than Illinois’ $0.23 per gallon tax on beer.

chicago soda tax

The Cook County sweetened beverage tax has been in effect since Aug. 2, following a temporary restraining order and unsuccessful lawsuit presented by the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, or IRMA.

Following the delay, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle sued IRMA for $17 million in damages only to withdraw the lawsuit days later.

On the same day the repeal ordinance was filed, Boykin announced he would file an ordinance that would attempt to curb the board president’s power in filing lawsuits, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Boykin’s ordinance would require the board president to notify county commissioners before filing a lawsuit that seeks damages totaling more than $100,000. Additionally, the County Board’s Finance Subcommittee on Litigation would have to approve any lawsuit seeking damages of more than $500,000.

Preckwinkle’s office responded by arguing the lawsuit was not retaliatory, saying retailers had plenty of time to prepare for the sweetened beverage tax’s implementation, rendering IRMA’s lawsuit frivolous.

Boykin recently announced he was considering challenging Preckwinkle in the 2018 election for Cook County board president.

Both new ordinances arise amidst a public outcry against excessive taxation and bureaucratic insensitivities in Chicago and greater Cook County.

Want more? Get stories like this delivered straight to your inbox.

Thank you, we'll keep you informed!