Judge Grants Temporary Restraining Order Blocking Sugary Beverage Tax

The tax was scheduled to go into effect Saturday

A judge on Friday granted a temporary restraining order that will block the implementation of Cook County's penny-per-ounce tax on sweetened beverages, which was scheduled to go into effect Saturday. 

Because there were questions about the tax's impact on consumers, Cook County Circuit Judge Daniel Kubasiak ruled it is on hold until July 12.

"The merchants of this county were relieved," Illinois Retail Merchants Association attorney Tanya Tiche DaWood said. "They were very concerned about this."

A lawsuit this week by the Illinois Retail Merchants Association and several grocers sought to block the tax, which they argue is unconstitutional and too vague. 

County officials said the tax is needed to pay for county services and will benefit the public's health over time. After Friday's ruling they said health advocates plan to continue the fight.

"We are disappointed," Elissa Bassler of the Illinois Public Health Institute said. "It's a temporary setback. We are confident the tax will be implemented soon."

Cook County Circuit Judge Daniel Kubasiak heard arguments Thursday. 

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Retailer lawyer David Ruskin said there currently isn't a system for refunds to occur should the tax eventually be found unconstitutional.

Fountain drinks and those in sealed containers would be taxed. Exempt from the tax are sweetened coffee drinks like those made at coffee shops and purchases made with food stamps.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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