Influence Is The Difference
Across the country, local governments had instituted a tax on sweetened beverages and food. Where this tax had been imposed, communities encountered numerous negative effects on consumers, employees, and businesses. At that point in time, no local governments in Michigan had enacted this type of tax. Industry stakeholders wanted to be proactive, however, and prevent local taxes from coming to Michigan in order to protect businesses and jobs -including the 6,000 people directly employed by the soft drink industry in Michigan.
MLC coordinated the establishment of a coalition of stakeholders and, through its client Michigan Soft Drink Association, managed the behind-the-scenes legislative effort on the issue. Working with industry leadership, we identified key legislative supporters and allies across the state, and on both sides of the aisle. Through education of policymakers, we were able to reduce the stigma and negative connotations that may occur when the state preempts local units of government from creating a targeted tax. We accomplished this by showing the regressive nature and the negative impact on employment in other jurisdictions that had instituted this type of tax.
Through these combined efforts, a two bill package passed both chambers and was signed into law by Governor Snyder in just a few weeks’ time. Due to these efforts, the soft drink and food industries, retailers, and Michigan residents are now protected from local taxation.
“The crucial aspect to our success was building a strategy without holes and utilizing our relationships with key decision makers to educate them on the potential problems a tax of this nature could create. We were able to create allies and champions who helped spread our message against the regressive and unfair tax that was directed at made-in-Michigan products and Michigan job providers.”
– Brendan E. Ringlever