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AOC_Soda_023w.JPGCalifornia would tax soda, sweet tea, sports drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages under new legislation unveiled Thursday.

Assembly Bill 669 would impose a penny-per-ounce tax on sweetened beverages to fund childhood obesity programs.

The legislation, not yet scheduled for public debate, is sure to be opposed by Republicans who have vowed not to raise taxes.

Assemblyman Bill Monning, D-Carmel, said his bill would meet a critical public need without exacerbating state budget woes.

"It's only fair that the sweetened beverage industry pay their fair share to address the crisis," Monning said in a written statement about combating obesity in an era of state fiscal distress.

Harold Goldstein, of the California Center for Public Health Advocacy, said 56 percent of California adults -- and 28 percent of children -- are overweight or obese, sparking a rise in diabetes and other chronic diseases.

The American Beverage Association has opposed soda taxes, releasing a statement in December that said "taxes do not make people healthier" and that such charges amount to "a money grab to pay for a government that is already too expensive and too involved in (taxpayers') personal lives."

PHOTO CREDIT: A student rides by a soda machine after school outside of Sacramento's McClatchy High School on Sept. 15, 2009. Autumn Cruz / Sacramento Bee file photo



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