Obesity Legislation: The Whole Enchilada

Every year around this time, state legislators return to work armed with a laundry list of proposals to replace last year’s failed bills. For the bevy of big brother bureaucrats out to tax and regulate certain foods, this year is no different. They’ve come to the table with a buffet of new bills supplanting consumer choice and personal responsibility with big government bureaucracy. Thankfully, a separate group of legislators has proposed a new wave of “Cheeseburger Bills” designed to prevent frivolous obesity litigation against restaurants and food producers.

So far fourteen states have passed “Cheeseburger Bills.” This year, ten more states (Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, and Wyoming) have proposed similar legislation. Of particular interest is New Mexico’s “Right To Eat Enchiladas Act.” But this culturally sensitive bill was proposed soon after New Mexico legislator introduced the “Soft Drink Tax Act.

The Soft Drink Tax Act imposes a new levy on soda and fruit drinks that are less than 50 percent juice. While the majority of the tax revenue is designated for the “Soft Drink Medicaid Fund,” five percent is set aside for anti-obesity and health awareness programs, and another one percent will go to schools that do not permit the sale of soft drinks to students.

New Mexico isn’t the only state to see bills that would penalize you for making your own food choices. Nebraska legislators will also consider a soda and snack food tax. Meanwhile, Maine, Connecticut, and Illinois have seen legislation introduced this year that would force restaurants to slap nutritional information on their menus and menu boards.
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