Capitol Alert

AM Alert: Soda tax bubbles up in Davis

Sugary sodas in Sacramento on Feb. 13, 2014.
Sugary sodas in Sacramento on Feb. 13, 2014. AP

With the deadline for passing two-year bills behind us, legislative business at the Capitol will shift into a lower gear for a little while. Now that they’ve acted on bills to lower the cost of diapers, illuminate the cost of drugs, regulate fantasy sports and boost Thanksgiving pay, lawmakers will have to cool their heels and wait for their newer bills to become eligible for hearings.

But it’s a different story at the local level. Elected officials will rally today at Davis City Hall to urge a public vote on a proposal to tax soda, an idea proponents contend is in trouble in part because Assembly candidate and Mayor Dan Wolk has thrown some cold water on the idea.

Bills to tax soda or to affix labels warning of health hazards have failed in Sacramento, in part reflecting the lobbying clout of the soda industry. So campaigns to tax soda have gone local, with a victory in Berkeley emboldening advocates. The strategy of putting pressure on state lawmakers with local ordinances can work – the proliferation of local plastic bag bans was one reason the California Grocers Association backed a statewide prohibition, citing the need for uniformity (the dime-a-bag fee they got didn’t hurt, either). So rest assured people will be watching the local soda fights.

VIDEO OF THE DAY: Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones talks about guns, marijuana and why he’s running for Congress.

EARLY START: The early childhood focused First 5 California will be at the Sacramento Library this morning to roll out their “Talk. Read. Sing.” campaign aimed at the little ones, a population that a certain incoming legislative leader wants to prioritize. Planned speakers include State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson; no word on whether he’ll jog through Capitol park to get there.

RICE RISES: Former U.S. Secretary of State and current Stanford professor Condoleezza Rice will be in Sacramento today for her induction to the California NAACP’s Hall of Fame (last year Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson got an award). The ceremony is this evening at the Memorial Auditorium.

Jeremy B. White: 916-326-5543, @CapitolAlert