• As previously covered on this blog, on June 16, 2016, the Philadelphia city council voted 13-4 to approve a 1.5-cent-per-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. The tax – which took effect on January 1, 2017 – is levied on distributors and covers a variety of beverages, including soda and diet soda, non-100% fruit drinks; sports drinks; flavored water; energy drinks; pre-sweetened coffee or tea; and non-alcoholic beverages intended to be mixed into alcoholic drinks. Prior to the January 1, 2017 effective date, the American Beverage Association (ABA) together with retailers, distributors and consumers filed a complaint in September 2016 in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas challenging Philadelphia’s soda tax (see previous blog coverage here). On December 19, 2016, the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas issued a decision upholding the Philadelphia Beverage Tax and dismissing the complaint challenging the tax in its entirety. Last month, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court upheld Philadelphia’s beverage tax, dismissing arguments from the American Beverage Association and local retailers that the levy is unlawful.
  • On Thursday, July 13, 2017, the ABA filed a petition with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court asking it to hear the case and to ultimately overturn the 1.5-cent-per-ounce tax on sugary drinks and diet sodas.
  • Observers speculate that the PA Supreme court will likely take up the appeal. It remains to be seen what, if any, impact the outcome of this litigation will have on the appetite of other U.S. jurisdictions to pursue such legislation.