The Sun Herald, 3/16/9

The slimming physique of House Public Health Committee Chairman Steve Holland has inspired other Mississippi lawmakers to do more than just marvel at his weight loss — they want to share the joy.

They approved legislation last week to give state employees who are obese the opportunity to undergo the lap-band surgical procedure that has helped Holland shed 81 pounds since June 18, 2008.

The bill awaiting Gov. Haley Barbour’s signature would authorize the public employees’ health insurance plan to pay for the surgery for up to 100 obese state government workers a year. It’s just another step in the state’s quest to rid itself of the distinction of being the fattest in the nation.

In years past, lawmakers have approved measures to require 30 minutes of physical activity for school students, and Barbour and his wife, Marsha, have been the centerpiece of the “Let’s Go Walkin’ Mississippi” campaign that encourages regular exercise.