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    California Independents Defeat Forced Closure Bill

    Proposed bill would have required automatic 35-day shutdown period in event of public health risk.

    By Hank Behar

    NEW YORK -- The California Independent Grocers Association (CIGA) recently chalked up a victory in the state legislature, defeating a bill that would have had serious consequences for grocery and convenience stores.

    Under the proposed bill (AB 1021), if agents of the Department of Public Health or local county Environmental Management found conditions in a store likely to result in illness to the public, the agents would have been required to immediately suspend the license of the establishment and force it to close, pending an administrative hearing.

    The closed store could then not reopen for 35 days, while it used the time frame needed for hearings, appeals and publishing a decision—a large consequence for many single-owner, independent convenience stores.

    This is in contrast to the current practice, in which the facility is closed until violations are removed. Then a follow-up inspection is conducted by the Health Department, usually within 72 hours, and the store is reopened.

    CIGA, using the strength of its membership to provide legislative advocacy for California’s independently-owned grocery and convenience stores, stepped into the legislative process and, working with the author’s office, convinced him to pull, and effectively, kill the bill.

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