Bill banning regulation of consumer incentives heads to governor - East Valley Tribune: Politics

Bill banning regulation of consumer incentives heads to governor

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Posted: Wednesday, April 6, 2011 4:50 pm | Updated: 2:25 pm, Thu Apr 14, 2011.

The question of whether you’ll remain able to get a free toy with your burger and fries is now in the hands of Gov. Jan Brewer.

On a 25-4 vote Wednesday, the Senate gave final approval to legislation to bar local governments from regulating ``consumer incentives’’ provided by restaurants to sell their meals. And that specifically means no Arizona ordinances like the one in San Francisco banning toys in kids’ meals that do not meet certain nutritional content.

The House already approved HB 2490 in February. That means the measure needs only the governor’s signature.

And while Brewer does not comment on measures until she reviews them, the governor has been a proponent of less government regulation, even using her power to bar state agencies from imposing new rules.

Central to the debate is the question of the limits of government regulation.

The legislation is the handiwork of the Arizona Restaurant Association. Steve Chucri, the organization’s president, said his members fear that some Arizona community might decide that the San Francisco ordinance would be a perfect way to fight childhood obesity.

That ordinance forbids restaurants from offering toys with meals if they had more than a set limit of calories and fat. It also says restaurants that do provide toys must also include fruits and vegetables with those meals.

Much of what passes for kids meals, especially at fast-food restaurants, would not qualify.

The law would protect more than the plastic cars, dolls and games that have become common giveaways. It also would ban cities and counties from keeping restaurants from giving away cups and glasses emblazoned with cartoon characters, trading cards, crayons, tokens or any other sort of incentive.

Opposition, to the extent it existed, came largely on the argument that the state should not preempt decisions by local officials.

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