Selling homemade cookies is not illegal in Wisconsin anymore

A court ruling suddenly changed the rules on home-baked goods.
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Wisconsinites might see a lot of home-baked bread, muffins, and cookies at their farmers markets this weekend.

Because those are legal now. A court ruling on Wednesday overturned a state law that banned the sale of homemade baked goods by anyone without a commercial license. Since renting or building a commercial kitchen costs thousands of dollars, that law effectively kept mom and pop bakers off the market.

So last year three women – all of whom operate bed & breakfasts and/or small farms – filed a lawsuit (read the complaint here). They got help from a legal group called the Institute for Justice, which backs libertarian causes.

Lisa Kivirist, Dela Ends, and Kriss Marion said they wanted to be able to sell their muffins or cookies to B&B customers or at farmer's markets. Now they are celebrating the judge's ruling that agreed the ban on selling baked goods from home ovens was unconstitutional.

What was their argument?

The three women and the Institute for Justice say the law was never really about protecting public health. Only one other state (New Jersey) has a similar law and there's no record in any of the other 48 states of cookies, muffins, or bread making people sick, they said.

What the law was really meant to do, they argued, was protect food businesses from the competition of small-time bakers.

The suit noted that efforts to change the law at the Capitol were fought by the Wisconsin Bakers Association and the speaker of the Assembly – who owns a food business – declined to bring the bill up for a vote.

In Wednesday's ruling Lafayette County Judge Duane Jorgenson agreed with them.

Erica Smith of the Institute for Justice said the judge "rightfully stated that the primary effect of this ban is to protect established businesses from competition. Not only is protecting other businesses from competition un-American, but it is also unconstitutional."

WISC reports the state has until June 23 to appeal the ruling, but the judge refused to keep the law in effect during the appeal process.

So you can expect plenty of warm ovens in Wisconsin kitchens this weekend.

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