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Senate panel advances bottled water tax

Bottled water would be taxed for the first time in Florida under a bill given initial approval in a Senate committee.

The measure by Sen. Evelyn Lynn would impose a 6 percent tax on all bottles of water and direct the funding toward cleaning up old plastic bottles that are thrown away. The tax would bring in $42 million next year: “It is a surcharge to save the environment,” said Lynn, R-Ormond Beach.

Critics in the beverage industry say the tax is “punative” and could cause job losses due to people buying fewer water bottles. “In terms of the environmental impact, it’s far, far less than many sectors of the economy,” said Florida Beverage Association lobbyist Martha Harbin.

The bill could be changed to add an exemption for large water bottles to spare people who buy bottled water in place of their normal drinking water.