Legislative Testimony for LB584: Adopt the Mobile Food Unit Act and change fees for a mobile food unit
Good morning, Chairman Halloran and members of the Agriculture Committee. My name is Nicole Fox and I am the Director of Government Relations for the Platte Institute. I am here today to testify in a neutral capacity.
In March of 2018, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation released its Food Truck Nation study.[i] According to the study, starting and maintaining a food truck for one year required an entrepreneur to complete 45 separate mandated procedures over the course of 37 business days, and spend over $28,000 on permits, licenses, and legal compliance. These costs are significant.
The intent of LB584 is to streamline and standardize the permitting and inspection processes for food trucks across Nebraska because the current system is fragmented with different permits, inspections and fees for cities, counties, and events. The bill achieves some of this, but not entirely.
LB584 as introduced requires reciprocity between local health departments with inspections and health permits in metropolitan class and first-class cities (and counties within which they are located). This is a good thing, but in the bill is written, this reciprocity is only optional for the remaining municipalities.
The goal should be to create a path for licensing, inspections, and operations where food trucks can operate freely across all jurisdictions in Nebraska and not have to navigate the redundancy of local regulations.
The Platte Institute envisions a bill which would do the following:
- Establish a reciprocity system so food truck owners do not have to obtain a business license in each city in which they desire to operate.
- Prohibit cities from establishing protectionist boundaries around restaurants in which food trucks are denied the opportunity to operate.
- Require that counties honor health and fire safety permits issued in other counties.
- Require that fees charged not exceed the actual administrative and inspection costs.
- Streamline event permits and other regulations.
In 2017, Utah passed a food truck bill which encompassed what we envision for Nebraska.[ii] The Platte Institute has discussed elements of the Utah bill with Senator Vargas’ office, and we hope he will incorporate those elements into an amendment.
Many brick and mortar restaurants start out as food truck operations due to lower start-up costs. While these costs are low, permitting alone often creates high barriers to entry that can put the brakes on a new food truck venture. Over the course of the pandemic, food trucks have served as a means for many to navigate the directed health measures that have limited their operations and profits.
We thank Sen. Vargas for attempting to reduce the regulatory speed bumps that currently exist for Nebraska food truck entrepreneurs. Let’s go full throttle and really streamline the process, put more food trucks on the road, and give consumers a wide variety