Food inspection bill passes

Restaurants and other places that sell food will pay higher permitting fees to the state.

The Senate gave final, unanimous passage Friday to House Bill 337 by state Rep. Nick Lorusso, R-New Orleans, outlining the increased fees. Gov. Bobby Jindal supports the fee hike.

The dollars will be used to enhance food inspection services at the Office of Public Health. The budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year anticipates the $1.7 million that will be generated from the bill.

The money will pay for current employees of the retail food inspection program, along with technology upgrades to better-coordinate inspections, supplies and travel costs.

The price tag for a permit varies by type of retail food establishment. Permit costs will be boosted by about 50 percent, according to a Legislative Fiscal Office analysis. Temporary or special event permits, like for fairs and festivals, will be exempt from the fee hike.