Mississippi passes “anti-Bloomberg” bill

The state's governor is expected to sign a bill that would ban limits on soda size

Topics: Michael Bloomberg, soda ban, New York City, Mississippi, Phil Bryant,

More trouble for Michael Bloomberg’s soda ban: Mississippi’s governor is considering an “anti-Bloomberg bill” that would ban limits on soda size, among other things.

The bill, which passed out of the state House and Senate, would bar cities and towns from implementing any rules that would require calorie counts be posted, that limit portion sizes, or that stop toys from being included in kids’ meals.

NPR reports:

The bill is expected to be signed by Gov. Phil Bryant, a Republican. It was the subject of intense lobbying by groups including the restaurant association, the small business and beverage group, and the chicken farmers’ lobby.

Mike Cashion, executive director the Mississippi Hospitality and Restaurant Association, says the bill is a direct reaction to Bloomberg-style government intervention in public health.

“If you look at how menus have changed, whether it be in fast food or family dining, you are seeing more and more healthy options,” Cashion says. “Not because of legislative mandates or regulatory mandates, but because of consumer demand. Our industry has always been one to respond to the marketplace.”

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“We don’t want local municipalities experimenting with labeling of foods and any organic agenda. We want that authority to rest with the legislature,” said Democratic Rep. Greg Holloway.

On Monday, Bloomberg’s soda ban faced a big setback when state Supreme Court Justice Milton Tingling struck it down, ruling that it was arbitrary because it only limited certain types of drinks from certain types of businesses. ”The loopholes in this rule effectively defeat the stated purpose,” he wrote.

Bloomberg, for his part, was unfazed, and plans to appeal. ”Despite yesterday’s temporary setback, I don’t think there’s any doubt that momentum is moving in our direction,” he said.

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at jrayfield@salon.com.

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