The controversial bill would create a double standard for professional bakers who own businesses.
Wisconsin Senate Bill 271 (SB 271), known by its nickname the Cookie Bill, would let the state join 48 other states that allow home bakers—those without bakeries or similar businesses—to sell their goods without obtaining an official food processing plant license Fox6Now reports. Before the bill, bakers were able to sell their cookies to farmers markets, as long as their profits totaled less than $25,000 per year. In May of this year, a court ruled the law unconstitutional when three women sought to expand their own homebaking businesses beyond that limit.
“There are so many women in Wisconsin who just want to be able to sell cakes and cookies to help support their family," Erica Smith, an attorney who worked on the case, told the news station.
Proponents of the bill say that amateur bakers could use their skills in the kitchen as a way to supplement their income, and claim that it would bring more job opportunities to the state. While that sounds like a promising consequence of the proposed law, not everyone agrees that the Cookie Bill would be good for Wisconsin.
The state’s Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, who is responsible for bringing the bill to the assembly floor, will not schedule a vote on it.
“I am not going to create a situation where we have different rules for different people," he explained.
As a solution, he’s introduced a bill that would lift the regulations that require that all bakers obtain the license, including those who own bakeries. But that’s drawn the criticism of some business owners who slogged through the process of obtaining the correct permits, taking the courses in pest management and temperature controls, and working with the health department, only to find out new businesses might not the subject to the same roadblocks.
For the time being, the current law will stay in place until the state government and bakers (both professional and amateur) can come to a compromise. Until the Cookie Bill does become law, the state joins New Jersey as one of the last states where it is still illegal to sell home-baked goods. California is leading the charge when it comes to loosening restrictions for home bakers: A recently introduced bill let amateur cooks sell their goods straight from their kitchens.