Judge to rule on effort to bar proposed sugary beverages tax

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CHICAGO (AP) _ An Illinois judge is expected to rule on whether to temporarily bar Cook County’s penny-per-ounce tax on sweetened beverages, which goes into effect Saturday.

A lawsuit this week by the Illinois Retail Merchants Association and several grocers seeks to block the tax, which they argue is unconstitutional and too vague. County officials say the tax is needed to pay for county services and will benefit the public’s health over time.

Cook County Circuit Judge Daniel Kubasiak heard arguments Thursday.

Retailer lawyer David Ruskin says there currently isn’t a system for refunds to occur should the tax eventually be found unconstitutional.

Fountain drinks and those in sealed containers would be taxed. Exempt from the tax are sweetened coffee drinks like those made at coffee shops and purchases made with food stamps.