Thursday, February 20, 2014

Thursday Must Reads: Supermajority of Californians Back Soda Tax; State Lawmakers Revisit Oil Extraction Tax

By Robert Gammon
Thu, Feb 20, 2014 at 9:48 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. A supermajority of Californians — 67 percent — support a tax on soda pop and other sugary drinks to fund programs that make kids healthier, the Chron reports, citing a new Field Poll. And even more residents — 74 percent — said they support putting health warning labels on sugary drinks, much like those placed on cigarette packs. The new poll comes as the Berkeley City Council is considering a tax on sugary beverages. In 2012, Richmond voters turned down such a tax after the soda industry spent $2.5 million to defeat it.

Oil companies hope to make a killing on fracking in the state.
  • Oil companies hope to make a killing on fracking in the state.
2. Democratic state Senator Noreen Evans of Santa Rosa has reintroduced a bill to enact a tax on oil extraction in the state, saying that it would raise $2 billion a year to improve higher education, social services, and parks, the LA Times$ reports. The state legislature turned down such a bill last year after the powerful oil industry, which hopes to profit heavily from fracking oil in California, lobbied against it. California is the only major oil producing state in the nation without an oil extraction tax — both Alaska and Texas have one.

3. Governor Jerry Brown and state lawmakers unveiled a $687 million drought-relief plan that would fund water conservation and reuse efforts and provide financial aid to farms and farmworkers impacted by the lack of water, the LA Times$ reports. None of the money would be spent on building new reservoirs or shipping water around the state.

4. Pleasanton-based supermarket chain Safeway is up for sale — a move that likely will result in another downsizing of the company and more store closures, the Bay Area News Group$ reports. It’s unclear whether the sale will impact Safeway’s two major store renovation plans in North Oakland.

5. Oakland City Administrator Deanna Santana was turned down for yet another job — this time in Phoenix, the Trib$ reports. Santana was a finalist to become that the city manger of Phoenix, as she had been in Dallas before losing out on that position as well.

6. US Department of Justice officials sharply criticized Contra Costa County for its practice of locking up juveniles in solitary confinement, the CoCo Times$ reports.

7. And California continues to set the pace nationally for Obamacare signups and has now surpassed its goals, the SacBee$ reports.

$ = news stories that may require payment to read.

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