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Not quite ready for cupcakes

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

* Sun-Times

At first, it looked like the “cupcake-girl” bill suffered the same fate as an overbaked batch of brownies or cookies: It got tossed.

But the Illinois Senate had second thoughts, undoing a vote it had taken earlier in the day and voting to give a downstate 12-year-old cupcake baker the right to stay in business without her family having to build on a second kitchen in their home to satisfy their county public health department.

The Senate used a parliamentary maneuver to reverse a 17-32 vote that appeared to have killed legislation aimed to help Chloe Stirling. On a second try, the Senate voted 57-0 on legislation that would keep her mixing bowls spinning and bake-oven lit.

“Let them eat cupcakes,” said state Sen. Heather Steans, D-Chicago, after the early-evening revote.

The offending language was demanded by the Illinois Department of Public Health. Apparently, Gov. Pat Quinn ordered a reversal after the bill went down in flames.

* The Tribune editorializes today on the cupcake bill fiasco

Senators spent an hour debating whether the state should crack down on young business people such as Chloe, a 12-year-old from Troy. Chloe was earning $200 a month selling homemade cupcakes to family and friends. After she was featured in her local newspaper for her baking skills, the Madison County Health Department made a few phone calls and shut her down.

She was told she needed to set up a commercial kitchen if she wanted to sell her cupcakes. “The rules are the rules,” the health department spokeswoman told local reporters.

Lawmakers in the House who heard about this filed a bill to give Chloe a break. The bill would have barred county and state health departments from regulating small, home-based food businesses that earn less than $1,000 per month. It was a one-page bill. It passed without a dissenting vote.

* But there’s something that nobody has been mentioning. The only way they got that bill through the House was with language demanded by some Chicago-area public health officials

This Section applies only to a home kitchen operation located in a municipality, township, or county where the local governing body has adopted an ordinance authorizing the direct sale of baked goods

Troy’s mayor is in the process of drafting an ordinance which would allow for these bake sales, so, the kid can’t legally sell her wares yet.

And unless Cook County, Chicago, etc. vote to allow this sort of thing, it ain’t gonna happen there, either.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - RonOglesby - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 11:52 am:

    No graft to be had. that will keep it from a vote in Chicago/cook

  2. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 11:54 am:

    ===No graft to be had.===

    Depends how many “Cupcakes” …”fall of the back of the truck”.

    Just sayin’

  3. - wordslinger - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 11:59 am:

    –After she was featured in her local newspaper for her baking skills, the Madison County Health Department made a few phone calls and shut her down.–

    Somebody in that office has way too much time on their hands.

  4. - Wensicia - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 12:11 pm:

    Replace the word cupcakes with the word strawberries and you get a more interesting story, or a least an amusing one. I wonder if the whistle blower at the Madison County Health Department is named Queeg?

  5. - DuPage - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 12:15 pm:

    They could amend it to only require local approval in cities over 2 million population or counties that have a city over 2 million population. That would line out Chicago or Cook County (whoever is complaining), and let the rest of the state sell according the state law.

  6. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 12:15 pm:

    Mayor of Troy, IL: It says here that Chloe, a 12-year-old, is THE new Midwest cupcake maker, with state Senate ties, and asserting that SHE is the boss of the $100 Cupcake empire.

    Troy Health Department Official #1: Did she really say that?

    Troy Mayor: Why of course she said that. It is all right here. Has that little girl even filed for a business license yet?

    Health Department Official #2: I don’t know, Sir. We will have to check.

    Troy Mayor: Well, without gettin’ your shorts in a knot, would you kindly do check, and check carefully, because we may just have to shut down a little girl’s cupcake business in town!


  7. - Soccermom - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 12:17 pm:

    I am trying not to get upset, as I am very busy today. But geez oh pete, this is absolutely ridiculous. People eat food from unregulated kitchens every day — it’s called “dinner.”

    Gosh, I hope they don’t hear that sometime people bring unregulated casseroled to their neighbors in times of crisis. Because, you know, germs.

  8. - Anonymous - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 12:19 pm:

    I can just see the ever vigilant Madison Co. Cupcake Tactical Unit hopping out of their vehicles to Storm the Sterling Compound flashing their ID’s and Regulations Books….

  9. - Precinct Captain - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 12:20 pm:

    I guess all of the whiners yesterday will be here praising Quinn and our Senate today. Alas, I won’t hold my breath.

  10. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 12:25 pm:

    ===That would line out Chicago or Cook County (whoever is complaining),===

    It goes well beyond the city and Cook. The bill is written that way for a reason.

  11. - Goooner - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 12:27 pm:

    No Precinct Captain, we will not.

    Some of us are from Chicago. The bill still allows people here to regulate the heck out out things.

  12. - Norseman - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 12:32 pm:

    === People eat food from unregulated kitchens every day — it’s called “dinner.” ===

    Soccermom, do you make you’re family pay? Mine would pay me not to cook.

  13. - OneMan - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 12:41 pm:

    And unless Cook County, Chicago, etc. vote to allow this sort of thing, it ain’t gonna happen there, either.

    And it isn’t….

  14. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 12:47 pm:

    The bill is written that way for a reason.

    You got a little girl and a cupcake, add a ton of government and you get a recipe for massive stupidity and a complete lack of common sense. There may very well had been a reason for all of this, but it takes an ounce of intelligence from any of our state legislators to keep that reason, or reasons from making our entire government look ridiculous.

    What did we teach our kids on this issue? Government is stupid and permits stupidity to ruin good intentions.

  15. - RonOglesby - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 12:54 pm:

    ” good intentions. ”

    The road to hell… and all of that.

  16. - Formerpol - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 1:05 pm:

    Well, now we know that the Madison County health department is overstaffed. Some Barney Fife who is paid not to think! I think we should next go after those Legislators who bring home-cooked food to the floor from time to time. And our neighborhood festival - forget it!

  17. - Just Observing - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 1:10 pm:

    === “Let them eat cupcakes,” said state Sen. Heather Steans, D-Chicago, after the early-evening revote. ===

    Sen. Steans probably couldn’t wait to use that line ;)

  18. - wordslinger - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 1:12 pm:

    –Sen. Steans probably couldn’t wait to use that line ;)–

    Remember what happened to the last person who used it….

  19. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 1:13 pm:

    ===Sen. Steans probably couldn’t wait to use that line ;)===

    Just don’t let Sen. Steans do the head count of how many cupcakes are needed…

  20. - Formerly Known As... - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 1:16 pm:

    @Judgement Day, @Soccermom, @Oswego Willy - glad to see the notion of “cupcake Ebola” caught on :)

    I think we can all agree that Soccermom’s comment wins the Internets for yesterday, and possibly the entire month.

    Now if we can just find a way to incorporate that phrase in the daily work routine or even some legislation. Hmmmm…

  21. - Archiesmom - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 1:24 pm:

    Sorry to be a cynic, but I hope they have insurance for the first time someone gets an upset stomach and decides the cupcake is at fault. It’s one thing to have a cupcake or lemonade stand, but if this is an actual small business, this will just be the only hurdle this girl has to overcome. That said, may her entrepreneurial spirit be undaunted.

  22. - A guy... - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 1:29 pm:

    Let’s see, there’s a glutten guideline and workshop, an icing permit, are the paper holders biodegradable, is there a yeast inspection (that sounds gross if you’re not careful) to insure proper rising. Lots to consider in Litigation County, IL.

  23. - Keyser Soze - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 1:34 pm:

    Yes, the entire matter is just plain silly. But, this sort of thing goes on every day. Ask anyone who has to deal with building inspectors, the EPA, the IRS, etc. We must have these folks, but unfortunately, a great many are lacking in good judgement, or what we used to call common sense.

  24. - Norseman - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 1:49 pm:

    Really, I didn’t want to get back into this subject but enter Exhibit A of an example of the knee-jerk, uninformed and dismissive response by many of our policy-makers.

    === Well, now we know that the Madison County health department is overstaffed. Some Barney Fife who is paid not to think! I think we should next go after those Legislators who bring home-cooked food to the floor from time to time. And our neighborhood festival - forget it! ===

    Make a policy decision to exempt small food vendors selling bake goods if you will, but do so based on information with your eyes wide-open as to the risks. Do a risk/benefit analysis. As a elected official, we should expect you to make decisions based upon the science or the best information on the ramifications. You owe it to your constituents. I know this doesn’t happen a lot, but it should. Instead of ranting, try research. Try asking questions. I believe it was Word who actually did more research on this issue and posted it than a majority of the Solons who actually had to vote on the bill.

    My own rant here goes to the number of years I had to deal with uniformed rants from too many of our policy-makers. I don’t begrudge Chloe her cupcake money, but I do hope this highlights to her the need to pay attention to cleanliness and other minor safe food handling practices.

  25. - Responsa - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 2:09 pm:

    Ugh. The time spent. The utter waste of time and resources spent on something that should have never even been in the news beyond an “attagirl”. Good grief.

  26. - Formerly Known As... - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 2:14 pm:

    == Somebody in that office has way too much time on their hands. ==

    Seems most likely. Unless this is an extension of some sort of personal disagreement? For some reason, someone in the office or the neighborhood had issues with the family or a family member and saw a chance to make life a little more difficult by using their position?

    It just seems odd to prioritize this ahead of other pressing issues in a county the size of Madison. Who decided to bump “the cupcake girl” to the top of the priority list? This decision raises multiple questions about office resource levels, resource allocation, the decision making process by employees and so on, all of which speaks to far more than just a knee-jerk reaction.

  27. - Formerly Known As... - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 2:26 pm:

    == I guess all of the whiners yesterday will be here praising Quinn and our Senate today. ==

    That shall certainly occur just as soon as all the other “whiners” from yesterday apologize for continuing to belabor the issue and dismiss others even after it was resolved and passed unanimously on reconsideration.

    Even as Senators were realizing their mistake, acknowledging it and fixing it, others here were doubling down on the idea that anyone who disagrees with them and thinks there must be a viable alternative is an idiot.

  28. - WAK - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 2:27 pm:

    I wish the House sponsor and those involved would have listened to my suggestion early on and the Madison County states Attorney’s suggestion that instead of creating a new section that they just amend the cottage food law. Instead while this is better than nothing (I guess) it just creates another layer in an already complicated patchwork quilt of food sanitation regulations. Furthermore as at least one comment pointed out all it does is authorizes locals to pass such an ordinance. Most likely very few will pass such ordinances and then those who live in those areas that passed ordinances will have to contend with the reality that their baking operations will be legal and allowed in one county but not the next, or in one municipality but not outside of it in the county. This bill is so weak barely anyone will be able to take advantage of the opportunity it creates.

  29. - Upon Further Review - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 5:05 pm:

    Once again, the Illinois legislature will provide fodder for comedians and late night television hosts. This bake sale controversy seems to be a natural for “News of the Weird” or “The Onion.”

  30. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 7:38 pm:

    To - Norseman -,

    I backed your overall logic yesterday, nothing has changed. This idea that the optics of the 11 year old versus a middle aged man, and the understanding of your thought out rationale is something the locals should have considered before a statewide Bill will be leveraged as useless.

    Just got around to addressing your comment.

    I stand my Comments from yesterday as well…

  31. - wordslinger - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 10:08 pm:

    –Once again, the Illinois legislature will provide fodder for comedians and late night television hosts. –

    Nah, the “lemonade stand outrage” has been all over the country and a staple on Drudge and Fox for years. A very important issue, in these times. Think of the children.

    As far as the late-night guys go, they roll out of bed every morning and review Rush, Beck, Hannity, Fox and Friends (my favorite) and Congress from the day before and just roll with it.

    Who needs writers when you have Goehmert from Texas and King from Iowa?

    Free content. Stuff writes itself.

    Seriously, though, “Fox and Friends” is awesome, far better than “SNL” any day of the week. Stewart and Colbert have made fortunes off of it without breaking a sweat.

    You’ve got that sassy Steve guy, and the other dude with the serious head injury. Add the disappointed, leggy, blonde church lady in the middle.

    It’s an epic day-to-day chronicle of the decline of Western Civilization, brought to you by Metamucil.

    Thanks, Obama!

    And thank you, Rupert, and thank you, Roger, for restoring my faith in the misanthropic venality of alleged leading citizens.

    How are you boys sleeping? Very well, on a big bed of nebbie money I bet!

    But that far shore is fast approaching, isn’t it? Feeling good about that? See you on the other side. Maybe. (I doubt it).

    Paddy Chayefsky, you lacked from imagination. You didn’t know from “Network.”

  32. - Anonymous - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 7:37 am:

    You should have gone to bed at 10.

  33. - Pensioner - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 7:47 am:

    Cuteness is not a factor in foodborne illness protection. Anybody remember the deaths and paralysis caused by botulism in Peoria? AS ALWAYS, believe the science that created these regulations.

  34. - Jeff Trigg - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 8:57 am:

    “Anybody remember the deaths and paralysis caused by botulism in Peoria?”

    Skewer Inn at the Northwoods Mall, what, in the late 70s early 80s? The patty melts were bad as I recall. They had health codes and regulations in place back then. Not very relevant to this legislation. You know of any case involving cupcakes instead of a commercial restaurant that had already been inspected and licensed by the health dept?

    There is no regulation that will keep everyone 100% safe from bad food at all times, short of a ban on all food replaced by some futuristic pills or something.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

* Sunday leaders meeting notes: Madigan counts the minutes, Republicans claim "new level of stalling"
* Yesterday's blog posts

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