Gov. Brown should veto SB1192, the latest nanny-state overreach

Should restaurants establish water, unflavored milk and nondairy milk the default beverages of children’s meals?

In the interests of promoting healthy choices, perhaps they should. But should restaurants be compelled to do so?

That’s a different question entirely, and it’s a proposal sitting on Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk at this moment.

Senate Bill 1192, introduced by Sen. Bill Monning, D-Carmel, would require restaurants that offer children’s meals that come with a drink to set “water, sparkling water, or flavored water, as specified, or unflavored milk or a nondairy milk alternative” as the default beverage of that meal.

To be clear, the bill does not prohibit restaurants from providing other kinds of beverages if the parent requests one, but it inserts government where it isn’t needed.

While Monning’s statement in support of the bill appropriately raises concerns about sugary drinks and the potential negative health consequences of such drinks, the idea that government needs to force restaurants to operate as a few politicians would like them to is untenable.

It must be noted that as good as Monning’s intentions might be, there’s little reason to believe the bill will result in any meaningful improvements to the health of young people.

To achieve what Monning wants, which is to “improve children’s health,” regulating the default beverage of a children’s meal at restaurants will not suffice.

Government would have to insert itself into every aspect of a child’s dietary life, including, for one, what children can actually eat a restaurant. After all, if drinks are a threat that must be controlled by government, why not the food?

The slippery slope that follows the logic of SB1192 is one most people would rightly recognize as gross government overreach.

“Seriously, like, what’s next?” Assemblyman Matthew Harper, R-Huntington Beach, asked. “Are we going to insist that you have to have kale in your salad unless you specifically ask otherwise?”

In a sorry reflection of what California has become, that’s actually a fair question, or at least one not outside the bounds of possibility.

Ensuring the health and well-being of children is a laudable goal. But SB1192 is a poor solution that should be vetoed by Gov. Brown.

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