Three Wisconsin entrepreneurs have the sweet taste of victory in their mouths today after a judge ruled that a law banning the sale of home-baked goods doesn’t fly under the state’s constitution.
The bakers filed a lawsuit [PDF] last year challenging the state law that says they must have a licensed commercial kitchen in order to sell baked goods. Wisconsin was one of only two states to have such a ban; New Jersey is the other.
Late yesterday in Lafayette County Circuit Court, Judge Duane Jorgeson found that the ban had “no real or substantial connection” to protecting the public because there has been no known instance of anyone ever falling ill from improperly baked goods, even though it’s legal to sell home baked goods in 48 states.
“I don’t see that there is a rational basis for the statutory scheme and I frankly don’t see any evidence of any real risk of harm to the public in general,” Jorgenson said, via WISC-TV.
According to attorneys for the plaintiffs, the judge also said the ban continued to exist because of the lobbying efforts of special interest groups, like the Wisconsin Bakers Association, who weren’t excited about competing with home bakers.
“Judge Duane Jorgenson rightfully stated that the primary effect of this ban is to protect established businesses from competition,” said Erica Smith, an attorney with the Institute for Justice. “Not only is protecting other businesses from competition un-American, but it is also unconstitutional. The Wisconsin Constitution protects the right to earn an honest living, and we are pleased the court agrees.”
The bakers sound like they’re ready to head to the kitchen and start whipping up some new business.
“He put a lot of thought to our issue, and the fact that we have been hitting barriers for a long time trying to bake out of our home kitchens, it’s a victory for those of us in kitchens throughout Wisconsin,” Lisa Kivirist, one of the plaintiffs, told WISC-TV.
Meanwhile, the state says it will appeal the decision.
Making food at home can be a big business; most notably, New Jersey native Martha Stewart, who started her culinary career with a catering company she operated out of her basement at Turkey Hill Farm.
If you’re thinking of a side hustle involving delicious cookies and cake, here’s some more info from the Small Business Association on how you can start baking.