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May 17, 2014

Too many legislative cooks spoil the bill

We should have known. Illinois lawmakers received the perfect recipe to simplify the lives of home bakers, but now are changing it and complicating things.

Rep. Charlie Meier, R-Okawville, had the right idea. He wanted to let small-time bakers like 12-year-old Chloe Stirling, of Troy, sell their goods without government interference.

But no. Now Sen. Donne Trotter, D-Chicago, is adding all sorts of cumbersome rules that do nothing to help the public but make work -- and money -- for local health departments. Figures. Most of them objected to the bill in its original form.

With the changes, bakers would have to label their goods with all the ingredients and allergens and warn people in writing that the item was baked in a home kitchen without a health department inspection. The bakers would have to take a class and pay a yet-to-be-determined fee.

It's an improvement over the current requirement of a commercial kitchen, but it's still ludicrous. Home bakers can sell their wares at farmers' markets in Illinois without government getting involved. Why not let bakers do so out of their home without worrying about running afoul of the law?

Trotter said, "I don't foresee that we're going to be raiding lemonade stands or cupcake sales." He obviously doesn't understand how government works. That's exactly what happened to Chloe.

Instead of complicating what should have been a simple bill, lawmakers should put their energy into developing a budget that doesn't rely on the soon-to-expire temporary tax. They are pretending that the income tax hike will become permanent -- even though they don't have the votes to make it permanent.

No wonder the state is a financial disaster. No wonder people can't wait to move out of Illinois.

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