Hearing Thursday on restraining order to stop Cook County soda tax

on Jun29

28 June 2017 | 6:12 pm

Legal efforts by the Illinois Retail Merchants Association to stop Cook County’s new sweetened beverage tax from taking effect Saturday were delayed another day.

Arguments on whether to issue a temporary restraining order will be heard tomorrow before Judge Carl Walker. A hearing had been scheduled for Wednesday before Cook County Judge James McGing, but he recused himself. The case now will be heard by Judge Carl Walker at 2:30 p.m. Thursday.

The retail merchants group filed the lawsuit Tuesday in an effort to stop the tax, which is set to go into effect July 1. Attorney David Ruskin, who represents the merchants, said that despite the time crunch to get the case before a judge, he believes there will be a ruling Thursday.

That penny-an-ounce tax, approved in November, covers carbonated soft drinks, whether sweetened with sugar or a substitute such as aspartame. It also covers sports drinks and energy drinks. Fruit drinks will be taxed, too — but 100 percent fruit juice drinks are exempt.

In its lawsuit, the merchants group claims the tax “violates the uniformity clause of the state’s constitution, which requires taxing bodies to draw reasonable classes of taxable categories and imposes a uniform tax within the classes,” according to a statement on the group’s website.

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