Veto sustained on healthful food financing program

The governor’s veto of a bill that would have provided a financing program to improve access to healthful foods in underserved communities was sustained after a motion to override the veto failed May 25.

LB200, introduced by Omaha Sen. Brenda Council, would have directed the Rural Development Commission to create a financing program to increase access to fresh fruits, vegetables and other nutritional foods in low-income areas with limited access to healthful food retailers.

Projects eligible for financing would have included new construction of grocery retail structures, grocery store renovation, expansion and infrastructure upgrades, establishment of farmers markets, community gardens, mobile markets and delivery projects that would have increased the capacity of food retailers to obtain fresh produce.

The bill would have been funded with annual transfers of $150,000 from the general fund and a reduction of the maximum tax credits offered under the Community Development Assistance Act from $350,000 to $200,000.

LB200 was approved 30-16 during its second vote on final reading May 18.

In his veto message, the governor said the bill would have duplicated assistance that currently is available through 19 federal programs that support the development of projects that address access to healthful foods.

Council offered a motion to override the governor’s veto. LB200 was designed to leverage federal and private funds, she said, adding that many of the programs mentioned by the governor require nonfederal matches or address only the acquisition of healthful foods, not their availability.

“The existence of federal or other nonstate funds is not — nor should it every be — the standard by which this Legislature determines the need to appropriate funds,” Council said.

Council’s motion to override the veto failed on a 20-19 vote. Thirty votes were needed.

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