Queens lawmakers and small business owners gathered Tuesday at Flushing Town Hall to introduce a new bill aimed at protecting restaurants from unfair inspection practices.
State Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Flushing), state Sen. Jose Peralta (D- East Elmhurst), Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato (D-Howard Beach) and Assemblyman Clyde Vanel (D- Queens Village) said the bill would help lessen the amount of burdensome fines levied on small businesses that can not handle them.
The bill is intended to reform the New York restaurant health investigation system, according to Kim. As a teenager Kim saw his parent’s grocery store go bankrupt and close after suffering from what he termed overregulation, excessive fining and high rents.
According to Kim, the bill, titled “The Restaurant Owner Whistle Blower Protection Act” will establish an independent oversight body to receive complaints about health inspectors. Complaint intake will create a hotline and website in multiple languages, including Arabic, Bengali, and Chinese. Kim said the if the bill passes, the city must provide an annual summary report on total number of independent complaints, what type of complaints and investigative findings. Finally, restaurants owners will be given three opportunities to deny the inspections on sitet and request a new inspector. Every time the restaurant owner will pay a fee, $75 for the first denial, $150 for the second denial and $250 for the final denial.