Northern Wyoming Daily News - Serving the Big Horn Basin for over 100 years

By Marcus Huff
Staff Writer 

Murray weighs in on sugar tax, governor's seat


October 11, 2017

WORLAND - In the Big Horn Basin on an economic development tour, Secretary of State Ed Murray sat down with the Northern Wyoming Daily News to discuss a variety of subjects on Tuesday including ramifications to the local economy in the face of a national sugar tax, to a possible run for the Office of the Governor.

After a tour of the facilities of Admiral Beverage, and a meeting with the management team for a facility that has provided Worland with jobs and industry since 1945, Murray considered the ramifications of a sugar (or "soda") tax, while still heralding Washakie County's position in Wyoming's economy.

"I do see Washakie County as the best positioned county in the state for stability and growth," said Murray. "It's the most diverse county in the state, because of the energy and agriculture economic base as anchors. Add manufacturing [such as Admiral] and you really have the ingredients for positive economic production."

Since 2011, 14 states and Congress have proposed soda taxes, (as much as 264 percent) in a bid to fight obesity across the nation. Seventeen states currently tax candy higher than regular foods, and collect excise tax on soda. In states like California, soft drinks must contain at least 10 percent fruit juice to be exempt for the tax.

"In my discussions with Admiral I learned that a sugar tax has resulted in a 40 percent reduction in production where that tax has been implemented in other areas of the country. Therefore I strongly believe that sugar taxes have a significant and detrimental effect on both jobs and the economy in Worland," Murray said.

While in Worland, Murray also attended the opening of the Washakie Medical Center, after an expansion project that began in 2015.

"The medical center is a great partnership between Banner Health, the county and the State Land and Investment Board," noted Murray. "It will enable Washakie Medical to provide a better patient experience and attract and retain good doctors and healthcare providers."

Touting the WIN program (Wyoming Invests Now), which enables business owners to acquire funding from Wyoming investors, Murray noted that since the program's start in July, numerous service providers have been matching startup businesses with crowdfunding.

"We're hearing some very positive things from the industry sector," said Murray, about the program.

As a whole, Murray sees Wyoming's business climate as steady, with some major changes to the filing system as a catalyst.

"The business division has been off the charts, with business filings up 65 percent over the last three years," said Murray. "Electronic filing saves us a tremendous amount of time, and allows unlimited times of operation. It's very business friendly now."

As the election year approaches, Murray faced the question as to whether he is considering a run for governor, as rumors continue to spread around the capitol of possible candidates.

"You know, I've been asked this quite a bit recently, and yes, I have given it some thought and looked into the statistics of running, and I'll probably have to make a decision soon," said Murray.

'I'm conflicted because I was elected as Secretary of State, and enjoy the position, so I'm weighing all of the great reasons to seek another term [as Secretary of State] versus seeking the governor's seat."

Murray continued, "Candidly, I think the Secretary of State is an office where I think there's a good balance of my skills and experience. Not to say that I couldn't make that leap [to governor] and I have been encouraged to do so. I'll let you know what happens."


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