One Woman’s Fight To Change Louisiana’s Cottage Food Law
Roxane Daigle is like many of us; focused on family and good food. The last thing she ever anticipated was that one day she would be lobbying her state senate to try to get a law changed. But then again, she never anticipated that something so very basic – so very American if you will – as making cakes at home so that she could help care for her grandson could land her in hot water. Not one to be easily deterred, Roxane is now focused on bringing a Cottage Food Law into effect in Louisiana. Read more about what steps she’s had to take and how you can help.
You started making your cakes and cupcakes as a hobby and as thank you gifts. At what point did you realize that Fancy Cakes could be a legitimate business? I realized almost immediately that Fancy Cakes could be a legitimate business once the requests for my baking continued weeks after I delivered my first order.
You learned the hard way that currently under Louisiana law you are not allowed to make food for sale out of your home. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
I was baking from home and selling cupcakes. Once I realized this could very well turn in to a legitimate business, I started looking in to costs of running a business from home and searching locally for any information on obtaining a license to make it legal. During that time, I was contacted by Point of View Magazine and their interest in doing a human interest story concerning my grandson and I and how Fancy Cakes came to be. I found out during this time period and my research that baking from home was not legal in Louisiana. That is when I came upon information concerning the Cottage Food Law. I was in the process of getting a “movement” started to change that law when a local home baker turned me in to the board of health for baking from home. I was shut down the very same day the article was published in Point of View Magazine. At that point, it was not only my “want” to have the law changed; it became my mission to help all the home bakers in Louisiana make their dreams come true.
Rather than give up, you decided to fight to change the law. What was the very first step you had to take?
The first step was to circulate a petition to our legislators to gather support for this to take place. I then began contacting my local State Representative and State Senator. I knew we had to find a Senator that would be willing to carry this bill to the April, 2013 legislative session.
How were you able to convince Senator Ward that this was a bill worth bringing up in session?
Senator Rick Ward met with me and another local home baker. We pleaded our case, after doing lots of research, and presented him with a list of the benefits a Cottage Food Law could be to our state.
I assume you’re a ‘normal person’ who doesn’t have a history of writing legislative bills – how did you figure out what you needed to include in the bill, how to word it, etc?
I am just a “normal” person, a home baker and never wrote a bill before. The internet is an endless source of information concerning Cottage Food Laws in different states. Each state has their wording and rules/regulations. It was a matter of doing the foot work, so to speak and “investigating,” state by state, what their law stated. Sort of a process of elimination of what I thought would benefit home bakers and what would be an issue. It’s a balance of what would be great for us as home bakers and also what would be best to present to ensure the passage of the law.
Did you model the Louisiana Cottage Food bill off of other states?
I spent quite a bit of time researching North Carolina’s Cottage Food Law and Texas’s Cottage Food Law. After “picking” each apart, I felt Texas had the best law to model off of with a few changes.
Does it ever feel overwhelming at any point? How do you get through those periods?
I have definitely felt overwhelmed at several times during this process. But, each time I reached that point, I would sit back and think of the hundreds of home bakers who were depending on me to continue, in hopes of making this a reality for them. I also would reflect back on the last 4 years of my life and think of my grandson who worked so very hard to get to where he is today without ever giving up. I did say that I would let God use me in whichever way he say fit in this process and I have faith that this is my path for now…to help others. I always did love a good challenge in my life. And this has definitely been a challenge… a challenge of growth. One that I would not change. I have come in to contact with so many wonderful people along the way and it’s been a true learning experience about myself and that there are so many good people in this world.
Where does the bill currently stand?
Currently the bill will go before a team of attorneys who will draft the bill in legal terms.
What’s the next steps for the Louisiana Cottage Food Bill?
It will then be carried by Senator Ward to the April, 2013 legislative session. The bill needs to pass the House and the Senate for passage.
For anyone who is from Louisiana and wants to support this bill what can they do?
IF you reside in Louisiana, please contact your State Representative and your State Senator. There is a link posted on the Louisiana Cottage Food Law Facebook page where you can look up your representatives for your district.
For anyone who wants to get a Cottage Food bill drafted for their state what recommendations do you have for them? If you live in a state that does not have the Cottage Food Law. I am here to tell you that one person CAN make a difference. It takes determination, research and getting the word out for support. Contact your representatives, schedule a meeting with them. Continue contacting them until you find someone who is willing to hear you out and agree to carry a bill for you. Senator Rick Ward is not my State Senator for my district; however he has so graciously agreed to do this. I will be forever indebted to him. Ban together with your local home bakers, become a team and work together, help one another out through this process, be supportive. It takes commitment to the process and determination, but anyone can make this happen in their own state. Reach out to others, like myself and ask questions. Gather information from people, like myself, who have been there and know what avenues you need to take. You can make a difference in the lives of so many people.