The Mesa County Commissioners today are urging Gov. John Hickenlooper to veto House Bill 16-1401, pertaining to the Regulation of Retail Food Establishments.
"We appreciate the work that has been done in Colorado to remedy the lack of funding toward the inspection and licensing of retail food establishments," the Commissioners wrote in a letter to Hickenlooper. "However, we are disappointed that the additional funds will be coming from the retail food establishments themselves, as most of these are locally owned small businesses. Given the current state of Mesa County’s economy, we do not want to impose additional financial burdens on our local business owners."
Mesa County operates a model food safety program in partnership with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. The Commissioners support the Mesa County Health Department and are able to continue to cover the program costs that are not covered by state funds or current license fees.
"We feel strongly that the costs to regulate Colorado’s retail food establishments vary so much from one local health department to another that it is inappropriate to impose a statewide increase in license fees," they wrote. "When planning for House Bill 16-1401, there should have been an assessment of each local health department to determine their cost to administer the retail program, and the extent to which that cost differed from other local health departments in the state. We suspect the results from such an assessment would have called in question the practicality of moving forward with House Bill 16-1401."
Colorado Counties, Inc. proposed an amendment to the bill, which would have allowed counties, like Mesa County, the flexibility to set license fees. If House Bill HB16-1401 is passed into law, Mesa County will be prohibited from making its own decision about how to allocate general fund revenue to support the program, thereby restricting local control.
"We believe the bill was passed without full respect to the unique and varying needs of each county and region in Colorado."