Thursday's hearing was not on the merits of the sugary beverage tax itself, but rather whether or not the July 1 rollout should be delayed so a court challenge can be heard. Judge Daniel Kubasiak said he would rule Friday.
The Illinois Retail Merchants Association had filed a motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction halting Cook County's rollout of the tax Saturday. The tax would add a penny-per-ounce for sugar and artificially-sweetened drinks. For instance, a two liter bottle of pop would cost an extra 67 cents.
The Merchants Association argued the tax would open up retailers to lawsuits if the tax were ever to be struck down by the courts, and they also argued the tax was unconstitutionally vague and unevenly applied.
"If you buy a bottle Frappuccino at the store, that's taxed, but if you order a Frappuccino, which has the same amount of sugar, it's not taxed. And you know, we don't buy the argument that the person doesn't know what to ring up. You order it with the sugar, or you don't. If it's got sugar in it, then it should be taxed," said Tanya Triche Dawood, Illinois Retail Merchants Association.
Attorneys for Cook County left without comment but argued in court that there's nothing unlawful about the tax. Other large municipalities have similar taxes on sweetened beverages.