Elections
Martha Lee, president of the Ethnic Chambers of Commerce, announces the group's support of I-1634.
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Martha Lee, president of the Ethnic Chambers of Commerce, announces the group's support of I-1634.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Ruby de Luna

Minority businesses come out against future soda tax


A coalition of grocery store owners run by people of color has thrown its support behind I-1634.

The initiative, funded primarily by soda companies, is a pre-emptive move to bar local governments from taxing sugary drinks.

When Seattle’s soda tax took effect in January this year, small businesses say their soda sales took a hit. Seattle now taxes soda and energy drinks nearly two cents per ounce.

Daniel Kim of the Korean American Grocers of Washington estimates his sales dropped by 30 percent. Many customers didn’t know about the soda tax until they got to the cash register, he said.

“And then when they pay it, they don’t realize there’s a tax,” he said. “They just drop it and leave the store.”

Kim is part of a coalition supporting I-1634. He and other supporters fear that future taxes will include food items.

"Things like this impact us, impact the bottom line," Mike Sotelo of the King County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce added,

In the first quarter of the year, Seattle has collected more than $4 million from the soda tax. City officials say that money will go toward healthy eating programs, early learning programs and community college scholarships.