TRENTON – It’s a bill whose origins are rooted in the recession. But it has had difficulty making it past the committee stage.
First introduced in 2009, the bill would allow home bakers to sell cupcakes, pies, cookies and other kinds of foods so long as the sellers make it clear to the consumer that the pastries and breads were prepared in a kitchen that is not subject to Department of Health inspections.
A1761 – which has not yet made it to a floor vote in either chamber – is again scheduled to be heard in committee later this week.
The bill pits concerns for working men and women trying to make ends meet in a stubborn economic downturn with concerns about possible unfair competition against full-time bakery businesses that are subject to such inspections and have to absorb overhead that people working out of their home can avoid.
Bill supporters counter that the kind of home-based entrepreneurs this bill would protect are no threat to corporate bakeries.
The bill would direct the Department of Health, in consultation with the Secretary of Agriculture, to develop rules and regulations to govern such home-based cooks.
The bill has bipartisan support. Its latest sponsors include Assembly members Vincent Prieto, (D-32), Secaucus; Alison McHose, (R-24), Sparta; and Daniel Benson, (D-14), Hamilton.
At the same hearing on Thursday, the Assembly Health Committee will hear the latest Health Benefits Exchange Act, A3186.
The bill’s earlier incarnation, vetoed by the governor, was revised and passed by the Senate last week, 21-17.