Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval vetoed a menu-labeling mandate this week that was adopted by the state legislature, but restaurant industry members say the issue may resurface.

The legislation, AB 126, would have required restaurant chains with 15 or more locations in the state to post nutrition information on menus, including calorie counts.

Proposed by Assemblywoman Lucy Flores, D-Las Vegas, the legislation attempted to go further than the federal menu-labeling mandate adopted as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, which would impact restaurant chains with 20 or more locations. Final rules for that bill have been delayed as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration grapples with the complexity of compliance.

In part because of that delay, Nevada state lawmakers tried to take action on menu labeling locally with AB 126, which initially attempted to establish misdemeanor penalties for violators of the nutrition disclosure rules, though those penalties were later softened, said Warren Hardy, a contract lobbyist for the Nevada Restaurant Association.

Sandoval reportedly struck down the legislation as redundant and an “unnecessary additional burden on affected restaurants,” given the federal requirements on deck, according to the Las Vegas Sun.

Katherine Jacobi, president and chief executive of the Nevada Restaurant Association, said restaurant chains across the state are not opposed to menu labeling, but they fought approval for AB 126 to avoid “the creation of a hodgepodge of menu labeling rules across the nation.”

The National Restaurant Association has been pushing for menu labeling standardization since New York became the first U.S. jurisdiction to require restaurants to post nutrition information in mid-2008.

Other state and local governments have also adopted menu-labeling mandates, including California, and jurisdictions in Pennsylvania and the state of Washington.

Though the veto ends the debate over state menu labeling for now, Hardy said he wouldn’t be surprised if the issue comes up at the state level again if the federal bill is delayed further, or if state lawmakers are not happy with the federal requirements.

“It’s an issue people feel really strongly about, and we don’t know what the federal law will be at this point,” he said. “I doubt we’ve seen the end of this.”

Contact Lisa Jennings at lisa.jennings@penton.com.
Follow her on Twitter: @livetodineout