We hate to intrude on the long-established Chinese Zodiac. But just as 2010 was the Year of the Tiger, we’re afraid 2011 could end up being the Year of the Nanny. (Qualities: irritating, finger-wagging, spiteful, incapable of having a good time. Partners best with regulators. Incompatible with freedom and common sense.)
January isn’t even over, and already a spate of new state legislation has been introduced that will limit consumer freedom.
As we’ve reported, Mississippi introduced a hefty soda tax bill, one that would raise the cost of a 12-ounce can of soda by 25 cents. Since then Connecticut and Oregon have also introduced soft drink tax legislation. Hawaii and Vermont are reportedly considering one too. And South Dakota introduced a bill that would lower taxes on grocery items except for candy, soda, and other “cafeteria-type food.”
New York Assemblyman Felix Ortiz has introduced legislation in New York that would tax anything classified as a “sweet” or “snack” by the USDA, along with video games and rentals of video games.
In California, the Los Angeles City Council has banned new fast-food restaurants from South Los Angeles indefinitely. The rule is an extension of a one-year ban that was tried in 2008 and is meant to reduce obesity.
Bills requiring schools to report students’ Body Mass Indexes (BMIs) to state governments were introduced in Indiana, Kentucky, Montana, New Jersey, and New York. This is despite the fact that BMI measurements are chronically flawed, and that similar laws have caused huge problems in Arkansas and Great Britain.
“Washingtonians for Humane Farms,” a lobbying front group for the Humane Society of the United States, introduced a Washington state ballot measure aimed at criminalizing the sale and production of eggs produced from hens in cages. This would make an affordable source of protein far more expensive for consumers. (See our “HumaneWatch” website for more analysis.)
We’ll keep you updated on all this. But one thing is clear: Food activists are back in 2011. With vigor.