Sweetened-beverage sales in Seattle dropped 30% after soda tax, new study says
SEATTLE — Sales of sugar-sweetened beverages at stores in Seattle dropped about 30.5% in the months after the city adopted a tax on such beverages, says a new study that also looked at sales at stores in Portland, which has no such tax.Sales in Portland declined only 10.5%, suggesting sales in Seattle dropped much more than they would have without a tax, according to the peer-reviewed study by University of Illinois at Chicago researchers.The study’s results are the first to measure the impact of Seattle’s tax on beverage sales in the city, and they may bolster claims by supporters that the co...
The Seattle Times
Lawmakers open groundwater fight against bottled water companies
OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington state, land of sprawling rainforests and glacier-fed rivers, might soon become the first in the nation to ban water bottling companies from tapping spring-fed sources.The proposal is one of several efforts at the state and local level to fend off the fast-growing bottled water industry and protect local groundwater. Local activists throughout the country say bottling companies are taking their water virtually for free, depleting springs and aquifers, then packaging it in plastic bottles and shipping it elsewhere for sale.“I was literally beyond shocked,” said Washin...
'Revenge porn' cases have lawmakers looking for a fix
MINNEAPOLIS — Stephanie’s 2 1/2-year relationship was ending, so she ignored her boyfriend one night in early January, even as he called and texted her more than 20 times.She woke up the next morning and logged on to Snapchat. What she saw left her paralyzed.During the night, he posted on the messaging app nearly two dozen videos and images of them having sex earlier in their relationship. By the time she found out, her boyfriend’s daughter had already seen the videos, and by the end of the day, so had Stephanie’s friends, family members and even neighbors.Stephanie went to the Becker Police D...
Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
Property taxes sink farmland owners
Doug Schmale’s family farm straddles the Great Plains in two parts: 4,500 acres in western Nebraska and a separate 160-acre plot in eastern Colorado. Schmale pays wildly different property taxes on either side of the border.“The last time I ran the numbers, I was paying somewhere close to five or six times as much in Nebraska than I was paying in eastern Colorado,” said Schmale, a third-generation wheat farmer. “And the better land, and the better school system, is in eastern Colorado.”Schmale’s situation illustrates the load that farmers carry in Nebraska: a heavy property tax burden that, on...
Floridians won't get to vote on recreational marijuana this year
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Make It Legal, an initiative to make recreational marijuana legal in Florida, announced Monday it will drop its bid to get on this year’s ballot and focus on 2022.The initiative was considered the strongest constitutional amendment bid to legalize marijuana in Florida because it was backed by major medical marijuana dispensaries already in the state. Make It Legal was led by California-based dispensary MedMen.Nick Hansen, chairman of Make it Legal Florida, said the ballot initiative has gathered “more than 700,000 signatures” to bring recreational or “adult-use” cannabi...
Ideas for a new tax on big businesses like Amazon swirl in Seattle as debate heats up again
SEATTLE — Politicians, activists and business leaders are scrambling to stake out positions ahead of another debate brewing in Seattle over taxing large corporations, less than two years after the City Council passed and then almost immediately repealed a “head tax” under pressure from a potential referendum and critics that included Amazon.There’s enthusiasm among local progressives to try again in 2020 — tapping into a national discussion about taxation and the wealthy amid the Democratic presidential primary — but with various ideas about how to proceed. Labor unions could play a pivotal ro...
The Seattle Times
Gray wolves have been gone from Colorado for 75 years. An upcoming vote could bring them back
Seventy-five years after Colorado killed its last gray wolf, voters will have a chance to bring the animal back again.Colorado’s Secretary of State office announced on Monday that a new initiative, titled “Restoration of Gray Wolves,” will be added to the state’s general election ballot for 2020. The proposal, if passed, would push the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission to develop a plan to reintroduce wolves on public lands by the end of 2023.The gray wolf, which used to live in much of the U.S., was eradicated from many states by the mid-20th century, because it was a menace to the lives...
New York Daily News
What Californians can do about creepy data collection in 2020
Starting Wednesday, Californians creeped out by the trove of personal data companies collect on their online shopping, searching and social media habits get sweeping new privacy rights that will let them opt out of having their information sold or shared and let them demand that it be deleted.“This is really a watershed moment for consumers,” said Scott W. Pink, a Menlo Park lawyer who advises companies on cybersecurity and privacy. “It’s the first law in the United States outside specialized industries like health care that provides consumers some degree of control and access over data collec...
The Mercury News
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker's use of his personal fortune for public expenses raises concerns
CHICAGO — During his first year in office, billionaire Gov. J.B. Pritzker has spent roughly $3 million from his vast personal fortune on everything from boosting pay for his top aides to renovating state buildings.While the figure is small in comparison with the $40 billion state budget, the extent to which Pritzker is using his wealth to fund state projects and salaries has blurred the line between private and public funding and challenged traditional thinking about the role of taxpayers in funding their government.The practice also raises concerns about transparency because some of the priva...
A vestige of segregation that could go before California voters next year
The repeal of a constitutional amendment discouraging public housing — a vestige of pro-segregation sentiment from the 1950s — could go before California voters next year.State lawmakers, backed by a coalition of developers, affordable housing advocates and cities, are considering approval of a ballot measure that would strike Article 34 from the California constitution.Advocates say repealing the article, which requires a local ballot measure to develop public housing, would make it easier for cities and counties to provide housing for the poor.“We have a desperate need for housing of every k...
The Mercury News