In May 2017, a Wisconsin trial court judge ruled that the state’s home-baked good ban was unconstitutional in a lawsuit brought by the Institute for Justice. Unfortunately, the state claimed the ruling applied only to the plaintiffs in the case, rather than to all Wisconsinites, and continued to enforce the ban on everyone except for IJ clients Kriss Marion, Lisa Kivirist and Dela Ends. Other home bakers across the state were left in limbo, hesitant to risk fines or jail time by selling their goods to willing customers.
Hannah Shaw, a stay-at-home mother from Black River Falls, Wisconsin, was one such home baker. Hannah turned to home baking as a way to supplement her husband’s income while caring for her three young children, including twins with special needs. Initially, she sold cakes to family and friends to earn money for school supplies. Word soon spread about her delicious and beautiful cakes and Hannah’s business grew.
But soon the state threatened Hannah with a $10,000 fine and a year in jail if she sold even one more homemade cake. To stay in business, Hannah would have had to get a commercial food license. Among other things, this would have required Hannah to spend tens of thousands of dollars to rent or build a commercial grade kitchen, something she could ill afford to do. Moreover, she had no interest in turning her home-based business into a full-fledged professional bakery.
Thankfully, the judge clarified in September 2017 that the ruling applied to all residents of the state and that all Wisconsinites have the constitutional right to sell home-baked goods directly to consumers.1 Hannah immediately started advertising her services online, and orders for her custom cakes quickly came pouring in. Hannah feels much more secure knowing she can finally use her talents to help financially support her young family.