Navajo lawmakers approve junk food tax

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) -- The Navajo Nation Council has approved a tax on junk food sold on the country's largest reservation.

Lawmakers voted 10-4 on the last day of a two-day special session Friday to impose a 2 percent sales tax on items such as cookies, chips and sodas. If signed into law by President Ben Shelly, the tax would remain in effect until 2020.

American Indians and Alaska Natives as a whole have the highest age-adjusted prevalence of diabetes among U.S. racial and ethnic groups, according to the American Diabetes Association.

According to the proposal, the revenue generated by the new tax would go into a community wellness fund. The Navajo Nation Division of Community Development would channel the funds to various projects such as farmers' markets, vegetable gardens and exercise equipment.

The Tribal Council previously failed to pass the legislation in April and Shelly vetoed the measure earlier this year.

But advocates vowed to revive it.