Gov. Phil Bredesen has vetoed a Senate bill, which would have given local legislative bodies the authority to require restaurants to include calorie information on their menus.
The legislation would have pre-empted action taken by the Metro Board of Health earlier this year to require chain restaurants to begin menu labeling in the next year. Bredesen is on the record as favoring menu labeling, but vetoed Senate Bill 1092 because it "would irresponsibly limit our state's ability to fight" the obesity epidemic. (Click here to read Bredesen's letter explaining his veto to Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey.)
Ironically, Bredesen's veto comes on the same day that a report from the Trust for America’s Health showed Tennessee as one of just four states with an obesity rate above 30 percent.
The state bill, originally sponsored by Rep. Susan Lynn (R-Mt. Juliet), initially sought to remove the power to require menu labeling, but then was amended to shift the power to local legislative bodies like the Metro Council.
The Metro Board of Health passed the menu-labeling requirement for chain restaurants earlier this year. Director of Health Dr. Bill Paul said people order differently when they have calorie information provided. Paul called the menu-labeling requirement a tool to assist in the fight against obesity.
The bill had support in the House of Representatives because it put the onus for instituting a menu-labeling requirement on elected officials, instead of appointed members of a government board.
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