California Assemblyman Bill Monning, citing stout opposition in the Republican-controlled Assembly, yesterday said a bill to tax sugared drinks at the rate of a penny-per-ounce has been temporarily shelved.

Monning, a Democrat, said he would not bring the bill to the Assembly floor unless it could win the necessary two-thirds vote.

The Sacramento Bee said, “Republicans have adamantly opposed any new such tax.”

A similar tax was proposed in New York State last year by then-Gov. David Paterson, but strong opposition resulted in him removing the tax from the budget before any vote could be taken.

“I remain committed to pursuing this issue and educating the public about the dangers of sugary drinks—the biggest contributor to current obesity trends,” said Monning.

“We must avoid a future influx of chronically ill adults into our already overstressed healthcare system,” he added.

Opponents said the tax would hurt the beverage industry and consumption of sugary drinks is a matter of individual responsibility and parental authority.

Sugar-Related Diseases Cost Calif. $41B

The California Center for Public Health Advocacy says 56% of state adults are overweight or obese as well as 28% of children.

It says there has been a “dramatic rise” in chronic diseases such as diabetes which costs the state an estimated $41 billion a year.

“If current obesity trends are not reversed, half of African-American and Latino children and one-third of Caucasian children born in 2000 will develop Type 2 diabetes in their lifetimes,” said Dr. Harold Goldstein of the CCPHA.

“Soda is clearly one, if not the leading contributor to this epidemic,” he added.

CCPHA has focused on the role of sugar-sweetened beverages in the obesity epidemic. It has launched the California Campaign for “Healthy Beverages.”

Maine Fights Fat

The Wall Street Journal today had a feature on Maine’s “stand against childhood obesity.”

The state has spent $3.7 million to urge schools and families to promote a daily 5-2-1-0 regimen that includes five servings of fruits and vegetables; two hours or less of screen time (cellphone, TV); one hour of exercise, and “no sugary drinks.”

The obesity rate for southern Maine thus far has fallen 1.5% to 31.3%.

Nationally, 12.5 million children and teens, or 16.9% are “obese,” according to the Centers for Disease Control.

There are no moves in Maine to enact a tax on sugary drinks.

The state is traditionally Republican.