Not Phat – Fat

June 8, 2012

It is common knowledge that our First Lady, Michelle Obama, is on a mission to bring healthier eating to young people. It is a conversation that is not only in the health arena but has certainly made its way well into our legal profession as highlighted by my colleague Nancy’s blog on Fast Food Suits.  States and cities are regulating food more closely. New York City Mayor Bloomberg has announced that he plans to enact a ban on the sale of large sodas and other sugary drinks in restaurants, movie theaters, sports arenas, delis and street carts. See, Legal challenges to New York sugary drink ban may fail, 2012 WLNR 11820067. And even corporations such as Disney are getting on the band wagon of better nutrition by banning advertising of junk food on their media outlets.  See, Disney to ban junk-food ads on children’s shows, Washington Post, 2012 WLNR 11824202.

Now that legislators and regulators are getting interested in how fat we as a nation are, it means we as lawyers representing entities and people who will be impacted by these laws, need to keep on top of what has been enacted and what’s coming down the road. One of my favorite tools on Westlaw for this purpose is Capitol Watch. Capitol Watch is a great resource available on Westlaw that provides a wide variety of materials to help monitor legislative and regulatory activity on every topic, in every jurisdiction. It helps you to organize your research so you can track and analyze current legislative and regulatory issues and actions.

To access Capitol Watch, you can add a Capitol Watch tab in Westlaw.com or you can go to www.westcapitolwatch.westlaw.com.  Capitol Watch includes:

BILLS: Contains all available bills (introduced, amended, and enacted versions) from current and recently ended sessions of legislatures from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as all versions of bills and resolutions introduced in the current U.S. Congress.

REGULATIONS: Contains documents from the Federal Register, such as hearing notices and proposed regulations, from the last few years and proposed and recently adopted rules and regulations from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

LEGISLATIVE MATERIALS: Contains federal committee and conference reports, the Congressional Record, federal congressional testimony, state committee reports, state amendment text, state fiscal notes, and state committee schedules.

EXECUTIVE MATERIALS: Contains presidential messages, governor’s messages, federal executive orders, and state executive orders.

Once you are in Capitol Watch, you can conduct searches, set up alerts and use the track service to be notified when there is some new information available. For example, you can do a search such as:

obese obesity over-weight /255 nutrition! health!

Once you have run the search, you can individually track the bills or proposed regulations etc.

 

 

For a user guide and a quick reference guide on how to use Capitol Watch effectively, see the links below

User Guide: http://store.westlaw.com/documentation/westlaw/wlawdoc/web/capwgde.pdf

Quick Reference Guide: http://store.westlaw.com/documentation/westlaw/wlawdoc/wlres/capwchwl.pdf