April 15, 2015 ~ Our Day At the Capitol & Status Update
Hello folks! I am so sorry to keep you all waiting for an update. Monday was a very long day. Since this was the first time I have actually sat in at the State Capitol for one of these hearings I am going to walk you through it so that the ones who don’t know can get a better picture of the process. I’m not going to lie, I am now even more thankful for Marianne and Kathy than I was before. This is a long drawn out day that takes a lot of patience and they have done this often.
A group of us who have been working on the cottage food bill for quite some time now, met at the State Capitol Café in the morning. As we drank coffee and waited to meet with Rep. Newberger we discussed the bill amendments, what they mean for us, and our options. At this point there are several people who have been working really hard to make this bill work for us. The Dept. of Health, the Dept. of Agriculture, the Grocer’s Association, the Farmer’s Market Association, as well as Sen. Dibble and Rep. Newberger have been meeting together and working on a deal that everyone can agree on and will benefit from.
Just after 11:30 we were able to meet with Rep. Newberger. He further explained the changes that have been made and listened to our request to clarify others, such as the ability to advertise. He assured us that all of our concerns would be addressed.
The Senate Environment, Economic, and Agriculture Budget Division committee was scheduled to meet at noon. So we made our way to where the meeting would be held. SF1249 was to be presented by Sen. Dibble and discussed in the committee. Well, the other senate session went on longer than expected and so the noon meeting didn’t happen until about 1:30. To make a very long story short, after several other senators and their people were heard, our bill was finally up at around 4:30. Senator Dibble explained what the bill was about, our Marianne and Kathy from the Farmer’s Market Association both testified. Some of the senators asked questions, which they all answered as clearly as possible. Mr. Santo Cruz, a very nice representative from the Dept. of Agriculture, answered more questions about health risks, etc. He said that in his opinion, if we took the food handlers course everything would be fine. However, after all of the questions were answered there still seemed to be some confusion and Senator Dibble was asked to clarify some points and then the committee would discuss it again. We then left the room and some time after 5:30pm we went our separate ways.
Rep. Newberger has since been in touch with us. He has been conversing with Sen. Dibble. The fee amounts, the advertising, and first and foremost for us, the ability to sell directly from home, are all on the new bill. Things are looking pretty good.
Through this process I have learned a few things. Senators and Representatives work really long hours while Legislature is in session. Most of them have regular jobs as well. We don’t always agree with every decision they make. That’s where your votes are so important. That’s why you have to be part of the election process. That’s how you control the decision making. But the bottom line is, they work really hard and we should appreciate that.
At this point I am not sure when the next meeting will be held. A look at the schedules did not have our bills on them. As soon as we find out it will be posted. Keep positive folks, this will be our year!