GOP Pushing No-License Bakery Bill

June 6, 2017

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A GOP legislative leader is pushing a bill that would eliminate state licensing requirements for all bakeries in Wisconsin.

Under current law, a state food processing license is generally required to operate facilities where food is manufactured or prepared for sale by baking, canning, freezing, and bottling. A second retail food establishment license is required if the food will be sold at retail at the same location as it was manufactured or prepared.

The measure being sponsored by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, of Rochester, follows a Lafayette County Circuit Court ruling last week that struck down a state law requiring home bakers to obtain state licenses. The judge said the requirement unfairly benefited business interests.

A related proposal in the state Senate, which is also controlled by Republican lawmakers, would eliminate state licensing requirements for home bakers who sell less than $7,500 worth of goods a year. The Senate bill, which Vos opposes, is scheduled for a public hearing on Wednesday.

Vos’s measure also follows other Republican proposals – here, here, here, and here – modeled after a corporate bill mill called the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) that seek to revise, reduce or eliminate licensing requirements for barbers, cosmetologists and other service-industry professionals.

ALEC hawks pro-business economic and social policy proposals to state legislators around the country. ALEC has received funding from Charles and David Koch, and Koch Industries is a member of ALEC. ALEC was created in the 1970s and is made up of powerful special interests and state legislators who create and exchange model legislation that can be introduced in statehouses across the country.