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A plan by State Rep. Robyn Gabel (D-Evanston) to impose a penny an ounce tax on sugary soft drinks has been bottled up in a legislative committee.

A leader of industry opposition to the measure, Timothy Bramlet, executive director of the Illinois Beverage Association, says Gabel’s bill and a companion measure in the state senate are “effectively dead” since they remain in committee and haven’t been called for hearings.

But Bramlet tells the Belleville News Democrat that “It could come up again. We’re never out of the woods until they adjourn.”

Gabel, who’s been talking about a soda tax since at least 2010, estimated the tax would generate $600 million a year.

She wants the money split between Medicaid programs and obesity education efforts.

An industry group, the Illinois Coalition Against Beverage Taxes, says sugar-sweetened beverages amount to about 6 percent of the calories Americans consume and that soft dirnk sales have fallen 12 percent during the past decade.

And a research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Jason Fletcher, says studies indicate that consumers will find something else to drink with roughly as many calories — like orange juice or milk — if they turn away from soda.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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