Wednesday, health advocates and legislators stood before camera crews, arguing that Vermont's sugary beverage consumption is making us obese. They say a tax will slim waistlines and bulk up health budgets.
"We need to start to bend the curve and deal with this problem in our state and nation," said Rep. David Sharpe, D-Bristol.
Last session, efforts to implement a sugary-beverage tax fizzled in committee. Its new sponsor, Rep. David Sharpe of Bristol, made a few small tweaks and will finalize a draft later this week.
"It may not be a silver bullet, but it is a first step," said Sharpe, D-Bristol.
The measure calls for a 1-cent tax per ounce on sugary beverages. Proponents say that would raise about $27 million. Funds would be split between healthy meals subsidies and covering additional costs for those transferring from state health plans into exchange plans.
The bill doesn't treat all sodas equally; at the moment, diet beverages are exempt. Other exemptions include: alcohol, milk, 100-percent fruit juice and infant formula.
John Sevigny operates DJ's Convenience Store in Montpelier. He says about 25 percent of customers buy soda in the summer months.
"They'll buy it along with their sandwich or sometimes that's all they come in for," Sevigny said.
If the law passes, customers will pay an additional 20 cents on a 20 oz. and nearly 70 cents on a two-liter.
Sevigny expects demand will drop by about 10 percent, as happened when tobacco rates went up, putting his business in jeopardy.
"We're working with such a small margin in the store," he said.
The Beverage Association of Vermont argues that sugar makes up a small percentage of the calories Americans consume each day. Spokespeople say the tax is unfair, especially for those vending along the New Hampshire border and they are circulating a petition.
Health officials counter that sugary beverages provide no health benefit and are simpler to legislate than sugary foods.
A battle may be brewing if the bill doesn't end up bottled up in committee yet again.
Saturday, December 7 2013 8:32 AM EST2013-12-07 13:32:27 GMT
If you're lucky, you may have seen a snowy owl in Vermont. Researchers say the birds are traveling even farther south than usual -- some even as far south as North Carolina. We spotted one Friday afternoonMore >>
Researchers say snowy owls are traveling even farther south than usual, and that means more sightings here in Vermont.More >>
Saturday, December 7 2013 7:51 AM EST2013-12-07 12:51:22 GMT
South Burlington police say a shoplifter tried to hide her drugs by swallowing them at the police station. Police arrested Diana Matt Friday night at the University Mall Kohl's for allegedly stealingMore >>
South Burlington police say a shoplifter tried to hide her drugs by swallowing them at the police station.More >>
Saturday, December 7 2013 7:49 AM EST2013-12-07 12:49:56 GMT
Police in Brattleboro are looking for the driver of a car that hit and killed a pedestrian Friday night. Police say, just after 7 p.m., the car struck the man at Western Avenue and Union Street and thenMore >>
Police in Brattleboro are looking for the driver of a car that hit and killed a pedestrian Friday night.More >>
Friday, December 6 2013 11:16 PM EST2013-12-07 04:16:55 GMT
A Connecticut man is charged with DUI after police say he admitted to overdosing on prescribed Ritalin when he was pulled over. The incident happened on Route 105 in Berkshire late Friday afternoon. AuthoritiesMore >>
A Connecticut man is charged with DUI after police say he admitted to overdosing on prescribed Ritalin when he was pulled over.More >>
Friday, December 6 2013 10:03 PM EST2013-12-07 03:03:22 GMT
In Dorset, a car crashed into a bank and there was no drive-through lane.The car jumped the curb in front of the Berkshire Bank Friday morning, taking out a railing and getting hung up on the front steps.More >>
In Dorset, a car crashed into a bank -- and there was no drive-through lane. More >>
Friday, December 6 2013 10:01 PM EST2013-12-07 03:01:17 GMT
The longtime bookkeeper at Cold Hollow Cider Mill is expected to plead guilty to embezzling from the business and a local youth hockey program.Cold Hollow in Waterbury is one of Vermont's top tourist attractions.More >>
The longtime bookkeeper at Cold Hollow Cider Mill is expected to plead guilty to embezzling from the business and a local youth hockey program.More >>
Friday, December 6 2013 10:00 PM EST2013-12-07 03:00:14 GMT
Police in Burlington say they've caught an armed robber.Investigators arrested Tyran Sprauve, 19, Friday afternoon for assault and robbery. Police say last month he and two other men broke into a homeMore >>
Police in Burlington say they've caught an armed robber.More >>
Friday, December 6 2013 9:59 PM EST2013-12-07 02:59:17 GMT
A Claremont, New Hampshire couple is behind bars, charged with sexually assaulting two children under the age of five.Police say 25-year-old Kevin Blood and his 25-year-old wife, Ashley, were arrestedMore >>
A Claremont, New Hampshire couple is behind bars, charged with sexually assaulting two children under the age of five.More >>