Menu labeling veto rejected
Posted: Friday, January 29, 2010 9:11 pm
By ERIK SCHELZIG
Associated Press Writer
NASHVILLE (AP) — The Senate on Thursday voted to override Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen’s veto of a bill to limit who can establish requirements for calorie counts to be posted on restaurant menus.
The Senate voted 24-7 to reject the veto on the bill to limit menu labeling authority to local elected government bodies — and not to unelected ones like health boards.
Senate Republican Caucus Chairwoman Diane Black of Gallatin said the measure was in response to a decision in Nashville last year to require menu labeling in restaurants chains.
“I don’t think any of us are against nutritional information being placed on menus for consumers,” Black said. But “an unelected regulatory agency should not have the power to impose these mandates.”
Bredesen vetoed the bill in July, citing Tennessee’s obesity rate that ranks among the highest in the nation.
“Anything that stalls progress toward getting healthier is something the governor opposes, which is why he vetoed the bill,” said Bredesen spokeswoman Lydia Lenker. “That said, this isn’t something he’s going to spend time fighting.”
It takes a majority vote in both chambers of the General Assembly to override a veto. Republican Rep. Susan Lynn of Mount Juliet, the main sponsor of the House version of the bill, said she hopes to bring the veto override up for a vote in the lower chamber next week.
Lynn said she opposes the concept of menu labeling, “but I do feel that if it is done, it is something that is better to be done at the state level so that there is uniformity.”
All seven Senate votes against the override came from Democrats, including Sen. Doug Jackson of Dickson, who said county boards are granted their authority by elected officials.
“Now you’re saying: ‘Elected officials, we don’t like the structure you’ve created,’ and yet we’re trying to tell the voters this is all about empowering elected officials,” he said.
Jackson said elected officials are free to reject anything on behalf of their boards or agencies.
Senate Minority Leader Jim Kyle, D-Memphis, said his vote against the bill was “about respecting elected, local officials making a decision in their community.”
“I find it amazing that those who have railed at the federal government about pre-empting state government would come and support pre-empting local government,” Kyle said. “That’s what this does.”
Dan Haskell, a lobbyist for the Tennessee Hospitality Association, said his organization was pleased with the Senate vote.
“What the health board never cared about is that it costs our guys money to find out how many calories are in things, and it costs them money to put signs up,” Haskell said.
Read SB1092 at: http://www.capitol.tn.gov
Published in The Messenger 1.29.10
menu labeling, Tennessee