Heather Russinko is a single mother raising a 13-year-old son and an entrepreneur from New Jersey. After years of making all kinds of baked goods for free, she wants to start her own home-based small business in baking. Unfortunately, New Jersey bans the sale of home-baked goods. Now, Heather and other home bakers have teamed up with the Institute for Justice to create a Change.org petition calling on the New Jersey legislature to protect the economic liberty of home bakers by overturning the ban on selling home-baked goods.
People choose to become home-bakers for a variety of reasons, whether they are retirees looking for supplemental income, or the victims of a layoff trying to scrape together some income to make ends meet. As Heather says:
Regardless of the reason, people across the country have realized that home baking allows them to use their talents to earn extra income. Home baking is the way to get started right away without having to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on professional equipment and commercial kitchen space.
Home-based bakers cannot earn this extra income because of New Jersey’s ban on the sale of baked goods. Under current law, home-baked goods sold to the public must be made in a commercial kitchen inspected by the state’s Department of Health and Senior Services. However, there is a way to reform this law.
The solution to New Jersey’s ban is a piece of cake—or a cake pop in my case. Legislation being considered in the New Jersey Legislature would legalize the limited sale of home-baked goods that do not require refrigeration—like cookies, cupcakes and my cake pops. This legislation is popular, with one exception. A lone senator, Joseph Vitale, is blocking the senate version of the bill from moving out of his committee. Hundreds of home bakers across the state have joined together to form a coalition committed to getting this bill passed, but we need all the support we can get.
The Institute for Justice is currently challenging a similar ban on selling home-baked goods in Wisconsin. IJ also successfully protected the rights of home bakers in Minnesota after a lawsuit challenging a sales cap in the state prompted legislative reforms. California and Texas also both legalized the sale of home-baked goods several years ago and, as of 2014, each created over 1000 local businesses.