Lawmakers kill calorie-posting requirement bill

AUGUSTA (AP) – A Maine Senate vote Thursday killed a bill that would have required chain restaurants to post on their menus or menu boards how many calories are in each of the items they serve.

The bill, which was rejected by a 31-4 vote, was intended to prevent obesity and improve Mainers’ health by giving them more information on what they’re eating.

Obesity has become a growing public health concern during the past decade. More than half of Maine adults are overweight or obese, and nearly 30 percent of the state’s high school students are overweight or at risk of becoming so.

Other bills addressing obesity that were submitted this session would make schools give parents confidential reports on their child’s body fat and stop teachers from using junk food to reward students.

Food processors and the state’s restaurant lobby opposed the bills, saying they could hurt business.

Maine jobless rate half point lower in January

AUGUSTA (AP) – Maine’s unemployment rate declined by a half of a percentage point in January to 4.1 percent, the Baldacci administration announced Thursday.

Labor Commissioner Laura Fortman said January’s jobless figure dropped from December’s 4.6 percent as the number of Maine residents looking for work declined while the number of employed residents remained unchanged.

January’s rate compares to the national rate of 5.2 percent. Maine’s rate in January 2004 was also higher, 4.7 percent, the Labor Department said. The rates are all adjusted to account for seasonal fluctuations in the labor market.

Other New England states reporting their seasonally adjusted unemployment rates for January include Vermont and New Hampshire, both 3.5 percent; Rhode Island 4.4 percent and Massachusetts 4.8 percent.

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