An interesting thing happened yesterday while everyone was scratching their heads and trying to figure out what President Trump meant when he tweeted “covfefe.”
In Wisconsin, a judge overturned a ban on selling homemade baked goods following a challenge brought by three women who claimed the law made it impossible for home bakers to legally sell their confections.
That’s right, folks. While the nation is worried about terrorists and rabid protesters, the Dairy State has been going after farm wives who want to supplement the family income with snickerdoodle stands and mothers trying to help schools by crafting cupcakes for a bake sale.
For those who don’t know, the law requires home bakers to obtain a license if they want to sell their goods, which requires renting and building a commercial kitchen, submitting to inspections and paying fees. Basically, once all that is done, consumers would have to pay in the neighborhood of $5 per cookie in order for bakers to recoup their costs. Anyone who violated the law could face fines and up to six months in jail.
Food safety is definitely a concern in this day and age, but considering New Jersey is the only other state that bans the sale of home baked goods, the Wisconsin law seems overly paranoid.
In an Associated Press story in April, the state’s Assembly Speaker, Robin Vos, offered this justification for having the ban in place:
“It seems to me we should focus on guaranteeing that people are treated the same and that we don’t create carve outs. We don’t allow some people to just set up a shop on the corner and sell gasoline. That’s not allowed; you have to actually go through a process. They can’t sell 10 gallons and after that it’s more.”
Did he seriously compare selling cakes and pies to selling gasoline? How many people are sitting on the corner with five-gallon canisters of gasoline with a sign made from poster board with “GAS SALE” written by hand? We’re talking about bake sales to help schools, benefits for people with extended illnesses and the like.
Vos obviously doesn’t remember the days when a primary source of income for parent-teacher associations and school clubs was bake sales. When I was in school, they were a common occurrence, and I peddled the goodies for a couple of groups I was with. If home bakers were really such a heinous threat, why aren’t there restrictions in every state? Why aren’t there law enforcement task forces ready to bust down the doors of illegal cupcake labs and pursuing pie smugglers?
Oh, yeah. That would be stupid.
Dela Ends, one of the plaintiffs in the suit, said in the AP story that she used to make and sell cinnamon rolls from her home but had to stop when she learned the practice was illegal. She noted that she did it to help supplement the income on her farm. Anyone who is or has been a farmer knows how difficult it is to have a steady income growing food when you’re at the mercy of droughts, floods and other natural forces. Ends’ idea was a noble effort slapped down by pointless bureaucracy.
Before everyone in Wisconsin rejoices at the thought of homemade baked goods returning to the state’s sidewalks, don’t count your loose change just yet. An AP story that came out Wednesday said the Department of Justice is considering an appeal.
My advice is don’t. There are more important issues to deal with, like the crumbling highways and adequate funding for schools. Tell the attorneys to take a holiday and go buy a gingerbread man from some sweet grandma so it will help her quilting circle. Let the law die so police officers can turn their attention to catching speeders and petty thieves.