Hey New Jersey, Start Writing To Our Legislators

Decorating By Sugar_Plum_Fairy Updated 7 Mar 2011 , 3:53am by Sugar_Plum_Fairy

Sugar_Plum_Fairy Posted 18 Jan 2011 , 3:42am
post #1 of 28

Hi, Fellow New Jerseyians.

Here's a letter you can use to write to our Senators and Assemblypeople (if you need to find out the names of those for your district, or even state-wide, please go here: [url] http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/members/roster.asp[/url]).

To the Honorable __________:

As a resident of the State of New Jersey I am aware that in June of 2009 a bill entitled 'S2908 Permits sale of home-baked goods under certain circumstances' was introduced to the New Jersey Senate and subsequently died in committee. As a cake baker and decorator I am asking that you consider sponsoring a new bill that would legalize the sale of home-made baked goods within New Jersey. As it currently stands, Chapter 24: Sanitation in Retail Food Establishments and Food and Beverage Vending Machines (NJAC 8:24) allows for preparing not potentially hazardous food for sale at a religious or charitable organization's bake sale, as well for foods being prepared and served if the home is a bed and breakfast guest house, or if the private home is a family child care home, but it does not extend to selling such items to any other consumer. Why? If the items and ingredients are the same and the kitchen and equipment used are also the same, why is it then illegal in New Jersey to sell home-baked goods to some consumers and not others?

Wouldn't New Jersey's leaders and government officials like to see a stimulus plan in action that not only generates employment for New Jersey residents but also has the potential to create more revenue for the state? According to the United States Department of Labor's website under the Bureau of Labor Statistics - Economy at a Glance (www.bls.gov/eag/eag.nj.htm), the average unemployment rate for N.J. from June through November 2010 was 9.45% while for our neighboring states, New York, Pennsylvania and Connecticut, their unemployment rates for the same time period were 8.25%, 9.0%, respectively. If a Cottage Foods Law was enacted in New Jersey there would be employment opportunities literally right in our own kitchens! Whether a family needed supplemental income from a stay at home parent, or a retired person or student who loves to bake and/or decorate cakes wanted to support the cost of this somewhat expensive hobby, or someone who is thinking of potentially starting a baking business but doesn't have the capital for the steep start-up costs and needs to 'test the waters' first, this law would help out in each scenario while simultaneously creating employment; stimulating the economy. In each scenario the baker would, of course, need to purchase ingredients, whether from a supermarket, a farm/farmer's market, etc. and other items from retailers of boxes and other cake decorating supplies. All of this would increase commerce within New Jersey and generate more revenue.

Opponents to Cottage Foods Laws generally have two points, which upon examination are actually non-issues. One, opponents are usually owners or managers or bakeries and restaurants and are concerned about competition; and two, the concern of food borne illnesses is always present and foremost in people's minds. Firstly, there really is no competition between a restaurant or bakery and a home-based business since there would be restrictions placed upon a home baker, not the least of which are the facts that, one, home bakers would only be able to produce 'potentially non-hazardous' goods and, two, not having a staff or commercial facilities at his/her disposal would prevent the home baker from competing in any degree with established bakeries/restaurants when it comes to production.

Secondly, with regards to food borne illnesses, it is actually potentially more dangerous the way things are now with no regulations in place for home bakers who bake within the limits of the law (i.e. for religious or charitable bake sales (which, by the way, do not require independent labeling of items or allow the purchaser to know exactly where the food item was produced or by whom)) or are illegally baking and selling their goods. With a Cottage Foods Law in place, home bakers would have to follow rules set in place to ensure the public's safety and most of the bakers I know want to be legal and follow rules to help keep everyone safe and happy (including themselves). Having the home baker complete food handling courses and be willing to have his/her home kitchen inspected are just two requirements that would have to be agreed upon to register one's residential kitchen in order to earn the privilege of using a Cottage Foods Production Law in order to start a small home-based bakery. By charging an annual fee, for example $100-500 per registrant, the State's Departments of Health should not have to worry about any additional costs to inspect and register home kitchens and might even earn additional revenue.

All in all I believe if a Cottage Foods Law was enacted within the State it could only prove positive for New Jersey and her residents. Please consider this matter and thank you for taking the time to read this and for your anticipated consideration.

Sincerely,

____(your name, address, phone no., and e-mail address)_______

27 replies
Sugar_Plum_Fairy Posted 1 Feb 2011 , 5:58pm
post #2 of 28

I just wanted to let you all know that I got the 'major mailing' out yesterday. Here's the breakdown of my expenses for this endeavor. For anyone who's able to contribute, thanks very much (Kim has graciously added a section to her blog/website where visitors can donate to our efforts to offset the cost of this mailing; her website can be found here: http://www.pieceofcakedecorating.com/2011/01/nj-home-bakers-law-aka-cottage-food-law.html. Thanks to you, too, Kim). Though money would help (I paid for this out of pocket, but it's worth it if this eventually gets a law passed in NJ), most importantly though, please write, fax and/or e-mail your own letters. We really need our Legislators to become bombarded with letters, postcards, etc., any type of correspondence that shows how much we want to see this bill authored and eventually made into law.

Here's the cost of the mailing broken down SIMPLY (I have the reciepts and I have the detailed break down, but for some purchases I used coupons when I could and a couple of purchases for extra tabbed dividers and an ink cartridge I asked hubby to pick them up on his way home from work, so they were purchased in NYC which, of course, has higher taxes, also, I included the discount on certain items where manufacturers rebates were included. I'm awaiting the rebate checks/cards which I believe, off the top of my head, totaled $40):

2 boxes of copy paper
2 boxes of 10x13 envelopes
1 box of business letter paper
1 package of address labels
5 packages black ink cartridges
2 packages color ink cartridges
12 packages of 10 twin pocket/3 hole fastner folders
11 packages of tabbed dividers
Copies made by Staples (2,141 petition pages copied and 645 article pages copied (some double-sided))

Also, I bought a new heavy duty three whole puncher since mine was a regular one that would only punch about 8 pages at a time instead of the 35-40 I was able to do with the new one. I didn't include the cost of that since I'll continue to use it for my own personal use here on out, but I probably wouldn't have bought it otherwise. icon_wink.gif

All of this totaled $763.58 ($207.76 of this was just the cost of copies made by Staples. I would have had them do the color copies - 119 copies of the 20 pages of the presentation, but the woman told me that being color copies, the cost would be over $1,000!! So I did those at home along with about half of the petition copies).

The cost for the postage came to $589.50, so the grand total was $1,353.08. It took about two weeks to make the copies, hole punch ALL the papers - all 6,240 pages! - (it was cheaper for me to do it than to have Staples do it. Also, that number includes the copy I made and kept for myself which actually means I made 130 packets), and finally I assembled each packet. A couple of nights I worked all through the night (it was easier than being interruped by family members and I got more done, but then I was up at night and sleeping about five hours in the middle of the day! lol). I'm not complaining, I got it done, I didn't mind doing it, but it did take quite a bit of work. If anyone is able to contribute towards this, again, it would be very much appreciated, but again, I'd really like for this to be worth the effort so if you haven't written your own letter yet, please do so. The amount of work to send a post card or a short letter should be a LOT less than what I've done for the mailing of the petition and presentation. PLEASE get those correspondences out to our NJ Legislators! If you can't write to all 119 of them, at least send something the Senator and Assemblypeople in your district. If you don't know who your representatives are or which district you're in, go to the first post in this thread and click on the link to find out.

Thanks again.

-Grace

Sugar_Plum_Fairy Posted 3 Feb 2011 , 9:35pm
post #3 of 28

Okay, so here's the latest - I already received my first response in today's mail and it sounds positive! It came from an Assemblywoman in my own district (probably the reason it made it here so quickly). Here's what the letter said:

Dear Ms. DeStefano,

Thank you for contacting my office regarding your support of reducing restrictions on consumers' ability to sell home-baked goods. I appreciate hearing your veiws regarding a Cottage Foods Law and the positive impact that it could potentially have on the economy. Please be aware that I, too, am concerned with the high unemployment rate in our state. I will evaluate this issue with your points in mind.

Thank you for taking the time to express your viewpoint. I will continue to fight in the best interest of my constituents.

Sincerely,
Denise Coyle
Assistant Minority Leader
New Jersey General Assembly, District 16
_________

This is a great start! Now we have to keep the momentum going. Please get your correspondences out. We want to bombard them with letters, phone calls, e-mails, faxes, post cards or whatever you can do. We want them to know we're serious and that there are a lot of us out here. Please, if you haven't done so yet, get your letters out NOW! We have to show them that we're serious and that we're willing to fight for this. We also want them to know that all those signatures on the petition are valid. Please now that we've got the ball to start rolling, let's get the momentum going strong now!!

-Grace

Sugar_Plum_Fairy Posted 7 Feb 2011 , 11:14am
post #4 of 28

Don't forget, if you don't have time right now to sit, type and print out some letters to sign and mail (the best way - they're generally taken more seriously since they show more time and thought was spent), while the 'iron is hot' and others are sending in letters, a few lines in an e-mail or on a post card showing that you support NJ passing a Cottage Food Law will still help. If you can do this in the meantime, please do.

Don't forget though, to send in the letters whenever possible. Now's the time. We don't want the reps to be getting them in dribs and drabs - we want to BOMBARD them with letters showing our support! You don't have to copy the sample letter either, but please make sure your letter is hearfelt, yet professional, and gives good, solid reasons why this law would be positive for NJ.

Thanks.

-Grace

sugarandstuff Posted 7 Feb 2011 , 11:46am
post #5 of 28

Grace - just read about this for the first time that you are doing this. I'm a little lost on the entire process, but will read up on it today and assist in anyway I can. Can you repost the link up above - it's not working.

sugarandstuff Posted 7 Feb 2011 , 12:02pm
post #6 of 28

I got the link - thanks, just sent 3 emails.

Sugar_Plum_Fairy Posted 7 Feb 2011 , 9:30pm
post #7 of 28

Sorry about that, Sugarandstuff, but glad you got it and I'm thrilled that you're sending out your letters. Thanks so much!! If you have any friends or relatives that wouldn't mind sending out letters of support that would help too.

Remember the more the Legislators hear about this and see the number of people that support this, the more they'll be in favor of it too. After all they represent us!

cownsj Posted 7 Feb 2011 , 10:06pm
post #8 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sugar_Plum_Fairy

Okay, so here's the latest - I already received my first response in today's mail and it sounds positive! It came from an Assemblywoman in my own district (probably the reason it made it here so quickly). Here's what the letter said:

Dear Ms. DeStefano,

Thank you for contacting my office regarding your support of reducing restrictions on consumers' ability to sell home-baked goods. I appreciate hearing your veiws regarding a Cottage Foods Law and the positive impact that it could potentially have on the economy. Please be aware that I, too, am concerned with the high unemployment rate in our state. I will evaluate this issue with your points in mind.

Thank you for taking the time to express your viewpoint. I will continue to fight in the best interest of my constituents.

Sincerely,
Denise Coyle
Assistant Minority Leader
New Jersey General Assembly, District 16
_________

This is a great start! Now we have to keep the momentum going. Please get your correspondences out. We want to bombard them with letters, phone calls, e-mails, faxes, post cards or whatever you can do. We want them to know we're serious and that there are a lot of us out here. Please, if you haven't done so yet, get your letters out NOW! We have to show them that we're serious and that we're willing to fight for this. We also want them to know that all those signatures on the petition are valid. Please now that we've got the ball to start rolling, let's get the momentum going strong now!!

-Grace




I think this is a great idea. And I do want to see you keep fighting and going for this. While I don't want to sound like a downer, I do want to let you know this is a typical form type letter from our representatives. I've gotten literally hundreds of them on every topic you can imagine. I reread this several times to be sure there wasn't something I was missing, but this is simply a non-answer. Mention your issue and say we are looking into it and want to work for our constitutents. I hope I'm wrong in this case, and I want to encourage you to continue in your battle, but I also want you to know that you are basically being blown off with this type of email. You might want to bring this to the attention of News12 and see if you can get them to do a story on it since they cover NJ. And the NY networks. Good luck, and I really did not write this to sound negative.

Sugar_Plum_Fairy Posted 7 Feb 2011 , 11:00pm
post #9 of 28

Thanks for the information and advice, cownsj.

As far as contacting the media, I'm holding off on that for a little longer until I get more responses and see who's 'on board' this time around. Last time we had supporters, or some legislators that seemed receptive, in the following people:
Senator Christopher Bateman (District 16)
Senator Bob Smith (District 17)
Senator Rober Gordon (District 3icon_cool.gif
Senator Nia Gill, Esq. (District 34)
Asm Dave Russo (District 40)
Asm John DiMaio (District 23)
Asm Jon Bramnick (District 21)
Asm Michael Patrick Carroll (District 25)

Those who were not receptive were Senator Doherty (District 23) (He took over as Senator in that district after winning the election over Senator Karrow, our then Sponsor of the bill.) and Asm Peter Biondi (District 16). I received a letter from Asm Biondi which stated, if memory serves correctly, that he was definitely against such a bill/law. Unfortunately, I misplaced the letter. It's got to be around, but I don't have it out right now - it's probably filed away. I'll repost it again when I get my hands on it, but I would definitely prefer the letter I received this year, form letter or not, over what he sent back in 2009.

As far as I'm concerned, without hearing an ouright "no", there's still reason to be positive.

Sugar_Plum_Fairy Posted 7 Feb 2011 , 11:15pm
post #10 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sugar_Plum_Fairy

Those who were not receptive were Senator Doherty (District 23) (He took over as Senator in that district after winning the election over Senator Karrow, our then Sponsor of the bill.) and Asm Peter Biondi (District 16). I received a letter from Asm Biondi which stated, if memory serves correctly, that he was definitely against such a bill/law. Unfortunately, I misplaced the letter. It's got to be around, but I don't have it out right now - it's probably filed away. I'll repost it again when I get my hands on it, but I would definitely prefer the letter I received this year, form letter or not, over what he sent back in 2009.

As far as I'm concerned, without hearing an ouright "no", there's still reason to be positive.




A-ha, I knew I posted it somewhere. Here's the letter I received from Asm Biondi back in 2009. I had posted it here on CC back then and I just found it again:

Dear Ms. DeStefano,

I have had my staff research your proposal to amend NJAC 8:24 to include legalizing residential kitchens. This so-called "cottage industry" is not done by Statute but is regulated by Administrative Code Title 8 of the Department of Health; which has the force of the law. The issue has come before the department in prior years and the officials have determined that allowing this industry would not be feasible; not only for health reasons but it would be untenable for them to send inspectors into private residences all over the state.

Regrettably, I have been convinced by the professionals that changing this regulation would not be in the best interest of the citizens of the state.

Thank you for your interest.

Sincerely,

Peter J. Biondi


I reiterate. I'd rather have the form letter than this any day of the week. This just sounds like a dead end and somebody who doesn't believe in change.

cownsj Posted 7 Feb 2011 , 11:28pm
post #11 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sugar_Plum_Fairy

As far as I'm concerned, without hearing an ouright "no", there's still reason to be positive.




Good for you, keep going at it. Have you called the representatives from your area and asked to have a sit down meeting with them? Getting them to see your passion can go a long way and maybe they'll help move things along "with" you. I'm applauding you.

cownsj Posted 7 Feb 2011 , 11:32pm
post #12 of 28

One more thought, is there any way you could do a petition that you could then send it in to the representatives? You can get online signatures to count if you have at least a name, zip code and email address, but a full address helps even more. Then in one felled swoop, you hand them alot of signatures. Start an email campaign where everyone signs the petition that goes directly to you, not add your name and move it on, because too many signatures are duplicated and others are simply lost. Just a thought.

Sugar_Plum_Fairy Posted 7 Feb 2011 , 11:44pm
post #13 of 28

www.petitiononline.com/NJHBL/petition.html

This was printed out last month and included in the mailing I sent out on Jan. 31st. There were 1,115 signatures printed on 25 pages along with the petition page.

Though we asked for e-mail addresses and Counties (since it was for NJ residents only) to be listed, not everyone wanted to add this information. Also, the company that hosts this free online petition site no longer wants anything to do with it. Artifice, Inc. is no longer printing them out. So instead of paying the fee to have a professional printout, I wound up having to print them out myself, but was able to put them into a spreadsheet and I think it looks good enough although less than half of the names have e-mail addresses associated with them.

Hopefully, it will still serve the purpose of proving that there is a lot of support within the state for the passage of a Cottage Food Law.

cownsj Posted 8 Feb 2011 , 3:40am
post #14 of 28

I'm very impressed. How many years have you been working toward this goal? Maybe people on cc could send emails to anyone they know in NJ and ask them to sign it for you and help you along. You really are dedicated to this and should be so very proud of all the work you've put into it.

Sugar_Plum_Fairy Posted 8 Feb 2011 , 12:34pm
post #15 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by cownsj

I'm very impressed. How many years have you been working toward this goal? Maybe people on cc could send emails to anyone they know in NJ and ask them to sign it for you and help you along. You really are dedicated to this and should be so very proud of all the work you've put into it.




Thanks. Last time we tried this, back in 2009, we did the letter-writing campaign and had a bill introduced in Senate by Senator Marcia Karrow and co-sponsored by Senator Christopher "Kip" Bateman. It eventually died in committee. Also, Senator Karrow lost her spot in the election to Senator Doherty, who is not in favor of the bill.

So now we're trying again and this time I sent the mailing to them right from the start which includes a 20 page PowerPoint presentation that was originally put together by Kelleym for Texas (she was extremely kind enough to share it with me and I changed it to suite our needs in NJ), the 26 pages of the petition with signatures, and finally 6 pages of articles relating to Cottage Food production (other states that have it - like Michigan, who just had it signed into law in July 2010 and Florida, who's trying to have a bill passed as well), also I included an article about Anglea Logan of Teaneck, NJ and how she started her busines with mortgage apple cakes, and a couple of others.

I'm hoping this will show how many in NJ are in favor of a Cottage Food Law and that the Legislators will take us seriously and sponsor other bills, both in Senate and the House.

cownsj Posted 8 Feb 2011 , 2:54pm
post #16 of 28

Ok cc'ers, who has friends and relatives in NJ that can sign this? They don't have to be cakers, just adults. Husbands and wives can each sign, their kids over 18 can sign......

Will it still work if people sign the petition on the link I looked at?

Manderly42 Posted 8 Feb 2011 , 3:24pm
post #17 of 28

Just signed the petition online! Really hope this goes through!

Sugar_Plum_Fairy Posted 8 Feb 2011 , 4:58pm
post #18 of 28

Any signature added to the petition is good, but might not be brought to the attention of the Legislators for quite a while. We have to see about that. In the meantime, please don't let this discourage you and don't hesitate to sign it if you haven't already (as long as you're a resident of NJ of legal age) and still encourage others who are supporters to sign it.

In the meantime, right now the most important thing to do is to let your representatives know that you would like to have a Cottage Food Law passed in this state. If you don't have time write a full letter right now, then by all means send an e-mail or a post card. Please, right now we have to make it known to the state legislators that we're serious and we want change!

Sugar_Plum_Fairy Posted 8 Feb 2011 , 6:08pm
post #19 of 28

Okay, just heard word (via e-mail) from Senator Bateman's office. He's planning on reintroducing S2908! This is very exciting! It's quick which makes me believe he's really supporting us. Once it's introduced in Senate it'll get a new number and be given to a committee. That's the time we really have to act and make noise. I'll keep you posted. In the meantime I'm going to start making calls to the Assemblypeople and try to get one or more to sponsor a bill in the House.

Great work, people! Way to go!

Sugar_Plum_Fairy Posted 8 Feb 2011 , 9:07pm
post #20 of 28

Correcting an error.

I don't remember where I wrote it, but I mistakingly stated that District 14 only has a Senator and one Assemblyperson. I was SO wrong and I apologize if I caused any confusion. District 14 has two Assemblypeople like every other district. Sorry for that.

amyruth219 Posted 9 Feb 2011 , 1:34am
post #21 of 28

Good luck to all of you in NJ! We're battling the same fight here in MD and I'm sending lots of positive vibes your way. Here's to us all winning the battle this year!!

Sugar_Plum_Fairy Posted 9 Feb 2011 , 12:44pm
post #22 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by amyruth219

Good luck to all of you in NJ! We're battling the same fight here in MD and I'm sending lots of positive vibes your way. Here's to us all winning the battle this year!!




Thanks so much, amyruth219! We appreciate the support and wish you the same in return. It's an exciting time now seeing that TX, CA, and FL are also fighting this battle, along with us. As you said, "here's to us all winning the battle this year!!"

PattyT Posted 9 Feb 2011 , 3:41pm
post #23 of 28

Thanks for all your hard work. I've copied the text of the letter, and will be sending out as quickly as I can.

p.s. I treid to follow the NJ Legislators link but it wasn't working at first. Just copy the url, but when you paste into the address bar, remove the [url]) text that is with it.

Sugar_Plum_Fairy Posted 9 Feb 2011 , 4:16pm
post #24 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by PattyT

Thanks for all your hard work. I've copied the text of the letter, and will be sending out as quickly as I can.

p.s. I treid to follow the NJ Legislators link but it wasn't working at first. Just copy the url, but when you paste into the address bar, remove the [url]) text that is with it.



That is so great! Thanks, Patty.

As for the mistake in the address; yes, I found out about that, but it was too late to edit my post. Thankfully most people are realizing the error and are able to 'work' around it and get to the site. icon_wink.gif (Let's just say that I was out of practice posting when I did that and that all my years away from an office have left my secretary skills a bit ....lacking.)

Again, thanks for sending the letters and I'll let you and everyone know to whom and when to send more (once the bill is assigned to a committee).

winny01 Posted 11 Feb 2011 , 10:17pm
post #25 of 28

I just signed the petition for this. I had contacted my represenative about the cottage law last year and didnt get anywere with it. Lets hope this gets passed soon in NJ!!

Sugar_Plum_Fairy Posted 11 Feb 2011 , 11:01pm
post #26 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by winny01

I just signed the petition for this. I had contacted my represenative about the cottage law last year and didnt get anywere with it. Lets hope this gets passed soon in NJ!!




Thanks for signing the petition! Right now the most important thing to do is write or e-mail your Legislators and let them know you want to see a Cottage Food Bill. If you'd like to use the letter that's sampled here for either 2009 or 2011, great. Or you can write your own. We really have to make our Legislators aware of how important this is to SO many people. The more people, the better!

Sugar_Plum_Fairy Posted 15 Feb 2011 , 7:59pm
post #27 of 28

For all those who've sent letters to their NJ Legislators, please PM me and let me know what District you're in (by number) and to whom you've sent your letters.

I've been making phone calls to all of the Legislators (not finished yet), and so far most of them have told me that they haven't heard from anyone else. I'm sure either they genuinely don't know (as not each person who answers the phone is the same as the one who opens the mail - and that was also a problem for me at some offices!) or they're not telling me too much information since I'm 'out of district'. It seems that I'm hearing that more frequently - very frustrating.

I found out today that another Assemblyman forwarded my mailing to Asw. Denise Coyle's office (District 16/mine). I tried to explain that it went to EVERY Senator and Assemblyperson in the State and I'm sort of the spokesperson, but this person in Assembly Amy Handlin's office (District 13) said it wouldn't be proper to talk with me. The irritating thing is that Asw Handlin is on the Health and Senior Services Committee members that will likely get this bill (if it's ever sponsored by somebody in the Assembly!) to be voted upon. If it is introduced and sent to that committee, she will be hearing from ALL of us!

I also heard from somebody in Asm. Patrick Delaney's office (District icon_cool.gif that he will not sponsor a bill (heard this song and dance from some other's, too), but might co-sponsor or just support it if it's introduced by another. The really annoying thing that I was told was that if they start receiving letters from their constituents (those within their district) that they'll take the time to meet with these people. So I really want to start keeping track of who's sending in correspondence, in what district and in what form (snail mailed letter, email, postcard, phone call, etc).

Thanks again for your help with this, Fellow New Jerseyans.

Sugar_Plum_Fairy Posted 7 Mar 2011 , 3:53am
post #28 of 28

Okay, as per a suggestion by KelleyM (thanks!!), I've set up the NJ Home Bakers' Bill page on FB. Here's the link: http://www.facebook.com/pages/.....0845646404

It's our central up-to-the-minute update site right now.

Also, for the Tweeters out there, I've set up a Twitter account. Keep an eye out for @NJHomeBakerBill.

Thanks for your help and support and please stop by and LIKE us on FB

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