Cupcakes on the menu at Capitol; young Troy baker to testify

News-DemocratMarch 4, 2014 

The "cupcake girl" from Troy is headed to Springfield to testify before an Illinois House committee, but she might not be getting a very sweet reception.

State Rep. Charlie Meier, R-Okawville, said 11-year-old Chloe Stirling is scheduled to give testimony today before a House committee that is considering his bill regarding the sales of home-baked products.

Meier said the legislation, House Bill 5354, would allow churches and others to continue selling home-baked goods without being regulated by county health departments.

Meier said many churches and other charitable organizations have dinners as fundraisers, where individual members of the organization each bring baked items. For example, he said, a church might sell chicken dinners, with each dinner including a slice of home-baked pie or cake. Meier said he's OK with the church's kitchen having to meet health regulations, but it's going too far to impose health regulations on every home kitchen where a pie is baked.

"I just want to allow what we've been doing all these years to go on," Meier said.

Chloe's cupcake business was shut down by the Madison County Health Department in January because she didn't work out of a certified kitchen and was selling to the public. She had been making cakes and cupcakes out of the family kitchen for about two years, mostly for friends, relatives, and occasionally selling them through word of mouth.

Meier said the girl will testify about her experience.

"She's going to talk about what happened to her. And she's going to talk about how she's getting help, but how other kids might not get the help that Chloe's getting," Meier said.

Chloe was a guest on a recent episode of the "Rachael Ray" show, and was surprised with a full suite of GE kitchen appliances from Ray and Buddy Valastro, of TLC's "Cake Boss" show. In addition, Chloe's father's employer is building her a commercial kitchen.

In Springfield, though, Chloe will see bitter opposition. As of Tuesday evening, 72 people had filled out forms asking to be witnesses in opposition to House Bill 5354. Most of those opponents are representatives of county health departments, including those of Madison, St. Clair, Clinton and Bond. For good measure, Cook County's health department and the Illinois Association of Public Health Administrators are opposed, too.

Meier said he thinks he might have enough votes to move the bill from committee to the House floor. On the House floor, he predicts passage would be more difficult.

"But if it doesn't pass in the House, I want every representative to go back to their church, and when the health department comes in and tells them their church can't sell those desserts any more, I want those representatives to tell their churches, 'Yep, I voted for that,'" Meier said.

Contact reporter Brian Brueggemann at bbrueggemann@bnd.com or 239-2511.

Contact reporter Brian Brueggemann at bbrueggemann@bnd.com or 239-2511.

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