Massachusetts’ Proposed Bottle Bill Suffers Landslide Defeat; California Cities Split Verdicts On Soda Tax

No On Question 2The beverage industry saw wins and losses in the results of last night’s midterm ballot questions. As projected, Massachusetts voters emphatically voted against Question 2, an initiative that would have expanded the state’s bottle bill to include 5-cent deposits on bottled water, sports drinks and other beverage containers not currently covered on the bill. Over 73-percent of the Commonwealth voted against the measure, in what will be seen as a victory for the bottling and grocery industry, as well as anyone opposed to shelling out an extra nickel for their bottled water.

On the West Coast, Berkeley, California became the first city in the country to pass a tax on soda, with 75-percent of Alameda County voters approving the measure to place a 1-cent-an-ounce tax on sugary drinks. Berkeley voters overcame massive spending by the  American Beverage Association in order to pass the bill.

“We’re saying no to Big Soda,” said Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates, according to the Associated Press. “We’re saying that Berkeley and the rest of the country need to pay attention that soda is such a destructive product.”

San Francisco, however, despite garnering over 50 percent of the vote, failed to pass a similar measure because the bill required a two-thirds majority to pass. Berkeley’s Measure D had no such requirement. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who unsuccessfully attempted to keep large soft drinks out of the Big Apple, donated $83,000 to the Berkeley initiative.

Additionally, in the latest series of failed GMO legislation, Colorado and Oregon voters voted against requiring companies to label foods that contain genetically modified ingredients. However, in a narrow victory of just over 1,000 votes, residents of Maui County, Hawaii decided to temporarily ban genetically engineered crops.