Do you believe that a local governmental unit should have the ability to tax pop or any other food item in order to limit the amount of pop consumers purchase and consume?

Today it could be pop and tomorrow who knows, maybe kale.

The Detroit News is reporting that the Michigan Senate passed a bill yesterday that would prohibit local government units from taxing “food, drinks or chewing gum”.  This bill is an effort by the Senate to be a deterrent for these local governmental units in their quest for control over essentially sin taxes on food.  As you might have heard pop/soda taxes have been passed in other states in the country by local governmental units.

State Senator Pete MacGregor, R-Rockford, sponsored the bill as a way to close “loopholes” he thought could allow these local government units to impose excise “sin” taxes on food and drinks.

In the article he is quoted as saying:

We can’t have a patchwork of certain cities and certain counties tax certain items and others don’t.  This will kill these cities’ economy.

One question I have is the Republican Party has long been a proponent of more local control, does this bill not take some of that control away?

Before you answer that question remember that today the Michigan Constitution exempts groceries from the state sales tax.  If so then how could a local government pass a law taxing certain food items?

The bill passed on a 31-5 vote, with support from all Republicans and believe it or not six Democrats voted for it. The bill now heads to the state House for additional consideration.

In the article State Senator Rebekah Warren, D-Ann Arbor, was quoted stating that this bill would have:

absolutely zero immediate, practical impact.  Because there’s not a single municipality in our state that is actively doing this. What this policy will do is take one more tool out of the tool box of our local units of government.

Did you read the bill as well as the context for the bill Senator Warren, it is clear that the bill was meant to be proactive in nature?  No one stated that there are currently local government units taxing food items.

I believe this debate could come down to two questions, the first being local vs state vs federal control and should governments be allowed to use their taxing power to attempt to control human behavior.

Also as a last thought, wouldn’t these types of sin taxes be a regressive tax?  That being that the lower a person is on the income scale the harder this tax will affect them.  I thought the Democratic Party’s main goal was to help people on the lower scale of income, not hurt them.

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