Governor Tom Vilsack’s pushing lawmakers to raise the license fees for restaurants and grocery store delis. Those fees pay for kitchen inspections. Vilsack says if we don’t support inspections, then it will end up being a regulatory system in which many establishments will end up paying more in fines.Vilsack asked legislators to raise the fees last year, but republican legislators are reluctant to support ANY tax or fee increases. Vilsack says as food-borne illnesses make news around the globe, the move to enhance inspections would help Iowa retauranteurs. Vilsack says it ensures its customers that the food prepared has passed a significant inspection.Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals director Kevin Techau says the present fees don’t generate enough money to do enough inspections. He says 83-percent of the state is not in compliance with the food code at this point. State officials do inspections in 16 counties. Techau says the fees generate 200-thousand dollars less than what it actually costs to do inspections with compliance with the code. Local city or county inspectors are to do kitchen inspections in the rest of the state, but Techau says they don’t have the resources to do ’em as often as they’re supposed to. House Republican Leader Christopher Rants isn’t shooting down the idea of raising license fees, but he’s not endorsing it, either. The Iowa Hospitality Association opposes the license-fee increase. Full service restaurants are to be inspected three times a year; fast food restaurants twice yearly, and convenience stores that sell ready-to-eat food are to be inspected once a year. Techau says those inspections aren’t up-to-date in 83 percent of the state.
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