Mississippi cans soda tax

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A proposal to raise taxes by two cents per ounce on sweetened bottled and canned soda won't make it out of committee.

State Rep. John Mayo of Clarksdale proposed the levy to raise funds to help defeat obesity in one of the nation's fattest states. But the House Ways and Means chairman said he doesn't intend to bring the bill up for vote, despite allowing a two-hour debate on the measure Wednesday. Gov. Haley Barbour, a former national Republican Party chairman, had maintained that he would veto such a tax if it reached his desk.

Battle lines were typical: A bottler talked about jobs, and business groups said the tax would unfairly target one indsutry in a state where fried chicken and other fatty foods are popular. A Washington-based advocate, meanwhile, testified that while the tax alone wouldn't solve the state's obesity problem, it might influence parents to seek out healthier beverage choices for their children.

It's obvious to ask: What's more important, marginal jobs losses or children's health?

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