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Wisconsin Lawmakers Consider Sales Of Home-Baked Goods Once Again

Some Home-Baking Advocates Say They Don't Expect Latest Cookie Bill To Pass

Making cookies
J.D. Pooley/AP Photo

Wisconsin lawmakers will once again consider whether to allow the sale of home-baked cookies, breads and other products.

This is the third time the “cookie bill” is being introduced. Last session, the bill died in the Assembly despite passing the Senate with bipartisan support.

“I think it’s a bill that deserves to be passed and put into law. It really fosters an environment where it encourages individuals to start a business” said Sen. Sheila Harsdorf, R-River Falls, one of the bill’s sponsors.

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The bill would allow up to $7,500 of home-baked good sales each year, according to The Associated Press.

Wisconsin and New Jersey are the only states that currently prohibit the for-profit sale of baked goods made in a home kitchen, according to the AP. In previous sessions, food industry advocates have brought up concerns about food safety, which Harsdorf said the latest bill addresses.

“A seller would have to register with the (state) Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, and, in addition to taking a food safety class, they would also need to comply with a number of requirements regarding labeling, training, signage and documenting their sales,” Harsdorf said.

But as the new bill circulates for co-sponsorship this week, some home-baking advocates aren’t holding their breath.

“We’ve been down that route legislatively and gotten nowhere so now the issue needs to be taken to another channel,” said Lisa Kivirist, a farmer and bed and breakfast owner.

Kivirist was a strong advocate of the cookie bill in 2013 and 2015. But after the bill failed to pass last session, she and two other farmers filed a lawsuit against the state, claiming the ban on home-baked goods was unconstitutional.

“All of us as citizens of our dear state of Wisconsin have the right to earn an honest livelihood and the government does not have the right make arbitrary restrictions,” Kivirist said. “So we want to both be able to bake our cookies but even more so set precedent for other food entrepreneurs in the state.”

The lawsuit also claims the ban violates the state’s equal protection rights, because Wisconsin allows the sale of other homemade goods like maple syrup, honey, cider and canned goods.

The case will have its first hearing on Thursday in Lafayette County Circuit Court.