Raleigh, N.C. — Cities would not be allowed to ban large servings of sugary drinks under a bill that passed the state House Wednesday night.
House Bill 683, the "Commonsense Consumption" bill, would also prohibit people from filing "frivolous lawsuits" against food manufacturers or packagers for obesity, weight gain or health issues related to consumption of their products.
The bill is model legislation promoted by pro-business advocacy group American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC.
Sponsor Rep. Brian Brown, R-Pitt, said the measure "requests that individuals make smart decisions."
“It’s right to not have people sue companies based on a bad personal choice that they made,” Brown said.
Rep. Deborah Ross, D-Wake, called it a "solution in search of a problem."
"If there was ever a bill that was less necessary, I can’t really think of one," she said.
Ross said the state's contributory negligence law disallows damages if a plaintiff is even 1 percent to blame for his or her injury.
"These kind of lawsuits don’t happen in North Carolina," she said. "The sponsors of the bill couldn't cite one case that has been filed."
Rep. Hugh Blackwell, R-Burke, offered an amendment on third reading.
Blackwell said the bill, as written, "goes overboard" and is "unfair to consumers" because it gives food manufacturers too much legal leeway, even if they sell something they could reasonably expect to cause harm to a consumer.
His amendment narrowed the requirements for proof. It passed despite Brown's objections, but with the backing of House Rules Committee Chairman Rep. Tim Moore.
The final vote on the amended bill was 79-33. It now goes to the Senate.