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Austin City Council Weighs Vending Machine Restrictions, Gun Control

Updated: Saturday, August 3 2013, 04:12 PM CDT

On Thursday, the Austin City Council will tackle a 78-item agenda that includes a number of hot topics.

Council will look at limited unhealthy food on city owned property at a time when they say two out of every three people in Travis County are overweight or obese. The city is considering changing the type of food sold in vending machines and food services on city-owned property. That includes places like City Hall, the Convention Center, and the Palmer Events Center.

On Thursday morning, they’re expected to vote to direct the city manager to come up with recommendations for that plan. They say any policy should include 100 percent healthy standards for all food and drinks served on city property.

Council Member Laura Morrison, who sponsored the resolution, told us right now she’s unaware of any cost associated with the potential change. However, last November, Health and Human Services adopted a 100 percent healthy vending machine policy for no cost.

If approved, they’d have until the end of May to present policy recommendations. Several other large cities, including Los Angeles, New York, and Cleveland, have taken similar steps to expand healthy food guidelines.   

Also on Thursday, Austin City Council is expected to vote on a resolution that, if approved, would require city staff to look at ways to track guns involved in crimes in the city. They’d report on their findings by May 1, with that information possibly influencing future policy decisions. This comes as the issue of gun control remains a major issue on Capitol Hill and at state governments nationwide following December’s Sandy Hook shootings, which this resolution mentions as a call to action.

The tracking idea is one of several ideas for action the city’s Public Safety Commission endorsed during their February meeting. They also discussed strengthening background checks, hosting gun buyback programs, and divesting from companies that sell high-capacity magazines or assault weapons.

According to backup documents posted on the city’s website, Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell is one of more than 850 mayors nationwide urging President Obama to take immediate steps “to make it harder for dangerous people to illegally possess guns and easier for police and prosecutors to crack down on them.”

By Adam BennettAustin City Council Weighs Vending Machine Restrictions, Gun Control

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