Bill Summary for S 296 (2015-2016)

Summary date: 

Mar 17 2015

Bill Information:

View NCGA Bill Details2015-2016 Session
Senate Bill 296 (Public) Filed Tuesday, March 17, 2015
AN ACT TO ENACT THE CORNER STORE INITIATIVE ACT TO ASSIST HEALTHY FOOD SMALL RETAILERS.
Intro. by D. Davis, Pate.

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Bill summary

Identical to H 250, filed 3/16/15.

Renames Part 2J of Article 10 of GS Chapter 143B as the Healthy Food Small Retailer Act (was, Wine and Grape Growers Council).

Enacts new GS 143B-437.92 providing the following. Sets out six General Assembly findings. States that the program established in the statute is intended to provide a source of funding and assistance for small food retailers operating in the state with the goal of increasing availability and sales of fresh fruits, vegetables, and other nutrient‑dense foods at affordable prices to local residents and improving the diet and health of local residents, especially in food desert zones. Creates the Healthy Food Small Retailer Fund (Fund) as a restricted reserve in the Department of Commerce (Department) and specifies that funds in the Fund do not revert but remain available to the Department for food desert relief purposes. Sets out and defines terms as they are used in the statute, including business and food desert relief and zone. Defines a small food retailer as a business that is a small retail outlet of no more than 3,000 heated square feet that sells a limited selection of foods and other products.

Requires the Secretary of Commerce, upon application by a county, to make a written determination as to whether an area is a food desert zone; the determination is effective until December 31 of the year 10 years following the year in which the determination is made. Requires the Department to annually publish a list of all food desert zones with a description of their boundaries. Specifies items that must be included in the application. Requires the Department to develop guidelines providing for the administration of the program and selection of recipients of food desert relief. Allows the Department to use up to 12% of the funds appropriated to the Fund to administer the Fund. Specifies provisions that must be included in the guidelines. Limits the use of funds in the Fund to (1) amounts to a county or regional public health department to purchase and install at a small food retailer refrigeration equipment, display shelving, and other equipment necessary for stocking nutrient‑dense foods; total funding may not exceed $5,000 per small food retailer; (2) amounts to a county or regional public health department to be given to a small food retailer to offset initial expenses related to participating in food desert relief efforts; total funding may not exceed $100 per small food retailer; or (3) amounts to a county or regional public health department to cover salaries and associated costs of either employees or contractors providing technical assistance to small food retailers on nutrient‑dense food safety and handling, nutrition education, and business operations and promotion related to nutrient‑dense food inventory; total funding may not exceed $1,500 per small food retailer.

Provides that funds may be disbursed from the Fund only in accordance with agreements entered into between the state and one or more county or regional public health departments and between the county or regional public health department and a small food retailer. Specifies provisions that must be included in the agreement. 

Allows funds to be disbursed to the county or regional public health department only after the county or regional public health department has demonstrated that the retailer has complied with the terms of the retailer performance agreement. Requires that funds be disbursed according to the disbursement schedule established in the local food desert relief agreement.

Requires the Department to publish a report on the use of funds in the Fund on or before April 30 of each year. Requires the report to be submitted electronically to the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Health and Human Services, the Joint Legislative Economic Development and Global Engagement Oversight Committee, and the Fiscal Research Division. Specifies items to be included in the report. 

Requires the Department to develop guidelines related to the administration of the Fund and to the selection of projects to receive allocations from the Fund. Requires the Department to publish the proposed guidelines on its website and provide notice to those requesting notice at least 20 days before the effective date of any guidelines or nontechnical amendments to guidelines. Also requires the Department to accept comments on the proposed guidelines during the 15 business days beginning on the first day that the Department has completed these notifications. Defines a technical amendment. 

Appropriates $1 million from the General Fund to the Department of Commerce for the 2015‑16 fiscal year to be allocated to the Fund to be used for purposes consistent with this act.

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