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Grocery bills introduced; House bill stalls while Senate bill advances

VACo supports legislation seeking to create the Virginia Grocery Investment Fund (VGIF), which was introduced in House and Senate committees to varying results on January 16.

In the Senate, Senator Rosalyn Dance and Senator William Stanley introduced SB 1189 (Dance) and SB 999 (Stanley), respectively, which they elected to roll together. The Senate Finance Committee had heard and passed the same bill last year, so after a brief discussion, SB 999 was unanimously passed by the Committee. Senate Finance did attach a financial contingency clause to the bill, however, which means that even if passed, it will not become effective unless the General Assembly includes an appropriation for the VGIF in the final form of the budget that the GA is working on. SB 999 now heads to the Senate floor, where it is expected to pass without any issue.

In the House, Delegate Delores McQuinn introduced HB 1858 (McQuinn) to the House Appropriations Committee’s Commerce, Agriculture, Natural Resources & Technology Subcommittee, which received a great deal of testimony in favor of the bill.  Subcommittee members noted the importance of rectifying food desserts and ensuring all Virginians have access to healthy, nutritious food, but nonetheless they expressed great hesitation to take up any measures this year that included new funding that had not already been appropriated by the 2019-2020 Budget. Delegate McQuinn emphasized the dire need that exists across Virginia and argued that the final, specific funding amount was far less important than simply providing something for the program. Ultimately, the subcommittee voted 5-4 to table the bill, though Delegate Steve Landes did commit to advocate on behalf of the VGIF should new funding become available as they continue to work through the budget.

VACo was pleased to speak in favor of these bills, and we look forward to continuing to fight for the VGIF for the remainder of the 2019 session.

VACo Contact: Chris McDonald, Esq.

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