Shelly Vetoes Navajo Junk Food Tax


After the Navajo Nation Council voted 12-7 on January 30 to approve a 2-percent increase in sales tax for processed foods high in fat, sugar and salt, as well as sweetened drinks sold on the 27,000-square-mile reservation, Tribal President Ben Shelly vetoed the legislation February 12, reported the AP.

RELATED: Navajo Nation Council Approves Junk Food Tax to Fight Obesity

The bill, known as the Healthy Diné Nation Act, intended to encourage Navajos to abandon unhealthy processed foods for fresh produce, thus reducing the high rates of obesity and diabetes among tribal members. The revenue collected from the tax hike would have been deposited into a special fund to develop wellness centers, parks, basketball courts, trails, swimming pools, picnic grounds and health education classes.

According to Shelly's advisor Deswood Tome, the Navajo President supports the concept, but thinks the legislation is vague about how the tax would be enforced and regulated.

Ironically, Shelly also vetoed a related bill that would kill the tribe's 5 percent sales tax on nuts, water, seeds, and fresh fruits and vegetables sold on the reservation. The Navajo Nation Council vote on that bill was 17 to 1.

The Tribal Council requires a two-thirds vote of its 24 members to override Shelly's vetoes, the AP reported.

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Maureen Beach
Maureen Beach
Submitted by Maureen Beach on
The fact of the matter is, if we want to get serious about reducing obesity and diabetes, education will prove far more productive than regulation. That’s because complex health conditions relate to many factors, including genetics, inactivity, overall diet, and more. To this point, the nation’s leading authorities on diabetes treatment and prevention advocate a holistic approach, saying millions of people can avoid or delay Type 2 diabetes by losing weight through diet and exercise. With a greater understanding of this important balance through education, people can make these informed choices for themselves. -Maureen Beach, American Beverage Association