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Mass. Senate approves school nutrition bill

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Mass. Senate approves school nutrition bill

The Massachusetts Senate has approved a bill designed to ban the sale of high-calorie sodas and salty and sugary snacks in elementary and high schools.

The House passed a similar bill in January.

The Senate bill would require state health officials to develop nutritional standards for all food sold in public schools, including snacks and sodas sold in vending machines.

The bill would also require schools to sell fresh fruits and vegetables, ban deep fried foods and require students be taught about nutrition and exercise.

Supporters say the bill will fight childhood obesity. Critics say schools have made important strides in serving healthier foods and don’t need more state-mandated regulations.

Gov. Deval Patrick has indicated support for the bills.

Mass. panel rejects effort to trim film tax break

A key legislative committee has unanimously rejected a bill that would have drastically cut the state’s tax credit for the film industry.

The Revenue Committee voted 8-0 last Thursday to reject a bill introduced by state Rep. Steven D’Amico that would have cut the credit to a maximum of $7 million per movie. Gov. Deval Patrick proposal to cut the tax credit to $50 million per year for the next two years was not acted on.

Supporters of the incentive say it has brought some Hollywood glitz to Massachusetts, created thousands of jobs and generated hundreds of millions of dollars in spending.

D’Amico, a Seekonk Democrat, and other opponents of the measure says the state shouldn’t be offering big tax giveaways while education, and other important programs are being trimmed.

 Senate president floats idea of Mass.-owned bank

Senate President Therese Murray is floating the idea of a state-owned bank to spur job creation and free up lending to Massachusetts businesses.

Murray told the business group Associated Industries of Massachusetts on Friday that a state-owned bank has worked in North Dakota, helping insulate that state from the worst of the recession, while also keeping its foreclosure rate down.

Murray said the idea may not work in Massachusetts and shouldn’t be allowed to interfere with the state’s network of community banks, but said lawmakers have to look at all options for thawing the credit market.

A jobs bill sponsored by Murray calls for a study of a state-owned bank in Massachusetts.

She said the Senate would also take up a series of business-friendly tax measures this year.

Mass. candidate for gov. loses campaign manager

Republican Christy Mihos’ campaign for governor has suffered another setback with the resignation of campaign manager Joe Manzoli.

Manzoli said he stepped down last week over what he called differences of opinion in the way the campaign should be run. He said he is owed more than $40,000 in back pay, but said that was not the reason he resigned.

Mihos, a wealthy convenience store magnate, says he plans to “move forward” and is in the process of finding a new manager.

Mihos’ campaign has been plagued with staff upheavals and financial problems. He bounced a $20,000 check to his own campaign account and in January, a judge placed liens on three businesses he owns after a gasoline supplier claimed he was owed more than $600,000.

Mihos faces Charles Baker in the Republican primary.