DARLINGTON -- Wisconsin is no longer one of only two states banning the sale of home-baked goods, thanks to a ruling by Lafayette Circuit Court Judge Duane Jorgenson.
An earlier ruling by Jorgenson making the ban unconstitutional was tentatively applied to just three plaintiffs who brought the issue before the court.
Dela Ends of Brodhead, Lisa Kivirist of Browntown, and Kriss Marion of Blanchardville challenged the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection in January of 2016.
“This was our goal all along,” Marion said. “I’m really excited for farmer’s markets across the state.
The state attorney general’s office argued that Jorgenson’s decision of unconstitutionality, made at the Lafayette County Courthouse May 31, should only apply to those three citizens. Jorgenson entertained the notion, but said if the state continued its ban, the issue would not hold up in future court proceedings.
Jorgenson agreed in July to allow the continued ban while entertaining further argument from both sides.
Following that discussion, the trio had been gearing up for a bigger battle, looking to gather a large number of state residents to show the ban should be lifted for everyone. It was a surprise when they were told by their lawyers of the Institute for Justice that Jorgenson had clarified his decision.
“We were as flabbergasted as anyone when we got the news,” Marion said.
The ban prohibited the sale of baked goods within the state. Wisconsin was one of only two states to require that anyone looking to offer products like zucchini bread at a farmer’s market stand would need to make the item in a commercial kitchen. New Jersey is now the sole state to prohibit the sale of home-baked goods.
An industry kitchen would require roughly $20,000 in improvements to most home kitchens.
Institute for Justice attorney Erica Smith led the case for Ends, Kivirist and Marion, citing other instances throughout the state in which similar goods are allowed to be sold without the same standards, such as the cream puffs made for the Wisconsin State Fair each year.
“This ruling is a major step for economic liberty and common sense in Wisconsin,” Smith said in a press release from IJ.
Ends and Marion have both shared dismay at the state’s inability to pass a bill, commonly referred to as the “Cookie Bill,” which would have prevented the lawsuit. Especially that tax money was used for the court proceedings given that the bill was well received in committee, but not allowed to be considered at Assembly by Speaker Robin Vos.
“This is more than a win for us home-based bakers, it’s recognition that all small businesses have the right to earn an honest living free from irrational government regulation,” Kivirist said in the release.
Now Marion, operator of a bed and breakfast on her organic Circle M Farm, said she looks forward to seeing the law become practice.
“This is a real opportunity for the local food producers,” Marion said. “And for Wisconsin to do what it does best; put quality food on the table.”