The Common Pleas Court judge hearing the challenge to Philadelphia's sweetened-beverage tax said Tuesday a decision should be made before the levy's Jan. 1, 2017, start date.
The lawyers representing the businesses, organizations, and people who sued the city over the tax have asked the state Supreme Court to take the case immediately, as opposed to waiting for the case to make its way through the lower courts. The Supreme Court has yet to make a decision.
In the meantime, Common Pleas Court Judge Gary S. Glazer said he wanted to move quickly on his end.
"I think what we are going to do is move forward with deliberate speed, with the anticipation that they will decide relatively soon," Glazer said, referring to the Supreme Court.
On Sep. 14, several residents, businesses, and organizations, including the American Beverage Association, filed a lawsuit calling the so-called soda tax unconstitutional.
The tax will add 1.5 cents per ounce to the cost of most sugary and diet beverages. Mayor Kenney sought it to pay for expanded early-childhood education and a number of other initiatives. The tax, applied at the distributor level, is expected to generate about $92 million a year.
During a status conference Tuesday, Shanin Specter, one of the lawyers for the plaintiffs, told Glazer that they hope the matter is resolved by Jan. 1.
Glazer responded: "That I can guarantee."
Glazer set a schedule for when preliminary objections are due. He declined to comment after the conference.
After the lawsuit was filed, the city's attorneys filed a legal objection.
The plaintiffs lawyers now have until Monday to respond to those objections. Marc Sonnenfeld, one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs, said his team would also file for a preliminary injunction that day.
The city gets to respond to the plaintiffs' response by Nov. 14.
"Then the judge has it and he can set it for arguments if he wants, he can decide on the papers if he wants, he can decide it, but he'll have it by mid-November," Mark Aronchick, one of the city's attorneys, said after the conference.