Mississippi bill would ban local governments from enacting restrictions on portion sizes

Mississippi lawmakers have passed a bill that would prohibit local governments from creating bills to restrict portion sizes, as the debate over regulations on soda sizes rages in New York.

The House passed the final version of Senate Bill 2687 on a 92-26 vote Wednesday. It bars local governments from requiring nutritional information, restricting portion sizes, or barring toys in kids' meals.

The bill, introduced by Picayune Republican Sen. Tony Smith, is meant to keep Mississippi cities and counties from modeling future regulations after the one proposed in New York.

There, Mayor Michael Bloomberg is fighting to regulate portions by capping soda sizes and requiring chain restaurants to display calorie information on menus. A judge nixed the regulation Monday, calling it illegally arbitrary.

Rep. Gregory Holloway, D-Hazlehurst, said during a House debate in February that he doesn't want municipalities making food regulations "willy nilly."

More On This...

    "If you want to go eat 20 Big Macs, you can eat 20 Big Macs," Holloway said.

    However, some state lawmakers disagreed, saying local governments need to have the ability to fight obesity. Federal rankings show nearly 35 percent of Mississippi adults were very fat in 2011, worst in the nation.

    "Given that Mississippi is the fattest and most unhealthy state in the USA, I don't think we should take a tool away from them if they should choose to use it," Rep. Omeria Scott, D-Laurel said.

    The law would take effect as soon as Bryant signs it.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.