This week on “The Impact”:
If it passes in November, Initiative 1634 would prohibit local governments from passing taxes on any groceries. It’s a response to Seattle’s sweetened beverage tax that took effect in January. Supporters of the initiative say what starts with soda could spread to other products and other cities. Opponents of I-1634 say that’s a smokescreen and argue that the beverage company funded ballot measure is really about protecting corporate profits at the cost of local control.
“They are continuously finding ways to tax the public and squeeze every dime out of us that they possibly can by taxing us and they’re always going to find a loophole. They’re going to find a way. Someone finds something creative to get the tax dollars out of the public and it’s really putting the squeeze on us,” said Brian Mack, Owner/Operator, Grocery Outlet, South Tacoma. “I feel like it could price people out of actually buying their groceries. And then where do you go from there?”
“Soda tax is just sort of what’s being fronted here and the worry about grocery taxes, in our minds this is really subterfuge. It’s all about corporate profit and what they’re doing is undermining local government authority. That’s really the issue that we’re voting on in November,” said Vic Colman, Washington Healthy Kids Coalition. “The soda companies have fronted, to date, reporting wise $13 million and we’ve raised almost $9,000 dollars. It just doesn’t feel like a fair fight to have this debate.”
In November Washington voters will also decide whether or not to adopt the first carbon fee in the nation. Initiative 1631 would create a fee of fifteen dollars per ton of greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels starting in 2020. The fee would rise by two dollars plus inflation each year until greenhouse gas reductions goals are met, with a target of meeting those goals by 2035. The revenue raised by I-1631 could be used for pollution clean-up in specific areas and for clean energy industry investments, according to supporters. Opponents say the initiative exempts some of the state’s largest carbon emitters and leaves the spending discretion up to a board with little oversight and no guarantees on carbon reduction results.
“I think the opposition is going to talk about cost right, but what they’re not going to talk about is the cost of inaction. And they’re not going to talk about the cost that we’re already paying for their pollution,” said April Sims, Washington State Labor Council. “I can tell you stories about my neighbors and the impacts that carbon pollution has had on their health and I think that’s a story that can told all across the state of Washington.”
“You know when you increase the price of gas by fourteen cents in the first year alone and it would go up each and every year that’s a hardship,” said Dana Bieber, spokesperson for the No On 1631 campaign. “This unelected board could actually funnel these billions and billions of dollars to their own communities to their own organization to their own companies or their own pet projects.”
In this episode we also highlight a controversial proposal to change the classification of certain radioactive waste at the Hanford nuclear reservation, so that it can be buried on sight forever.