Committee approves Jansen's legislation encouraging grocers to open in redeveloping areas
Legislation to help ensure that residents across Michigan have adequate access to grocery stores selling fresh fruits and vegetables was approved by the Senate Economic Development and Regulatory Reform Committee Wednesday, said Sen. Mark Jansen, R-Gaines Township.
Senate Bill 294, sponsored by Jansen, would allow local units of government to offer tax abatements for up to 10 years for grocery stores established in redeveloping areas.
"This bill is a good first step to addressing a complex issue," Jansen said. "Regardless of where Michigan residents live there should be local groceries where they can buy fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as other nutritious foods."
Residents of low-income areas often lack access to stores with nutritious foods and suffer higher rates of obesity, malnutrition and diet-related disease. The shortage of grocery stores means residents have to travel to find nutritious food, something many lower-income residents cannot afford to do. The alternative is to shop at more expensive convenience stores that stock less nutritious food products.
"In addition to the health benefits my bill will help improve communities," Jansen said. "Grocery stores provide jobs for local residents and often pave the way for neighborhood revitalization since they are high-volume magnets for complementary stores."
The tax abatement is only available for grocery stores established in underserved areas located in core communities or in underserved rural places as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau.
The tax abatement is only available for groceries that provide fresh meat, fruits and vegetables, and dairy products.
Jansen is the first state legislator to address this vital issue following a recent administration report. His former position with Habitat for Humanity of Michigan was the catalyst behind the legislation's introduction.
SB 294 will now go before the full Senate for consideration.
Editor's note: A photo of Sen. Jansen testifying before the Senate Economic Development and Regulatory Reform Committee is available on the Senate Majority Photowire: http://www.MISenateGOP.com/senators/photowire.asp?District=28
Posted: Wednesday, December 05, 2007
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