When I moved from Missouri to Kentucky, I was a recently divorced mother of three, looking forward to starting a new life. And I had a plan. I was going to continue my successful — and legal — small business selling custom cakes I made at home.
My friends and neighbors loved my cake designs and I loved the flexibility of working in my home kitchen. I was able to raise my kids and bring in extra cash for my family.
You could imagine my shock when I found out that Kentucky banned my business and would rather put me in jail than let me bake to support my children. Kentucky bans everyone except farmers from selling home-baked goods such as cookies, cakes and muffins. Anyone caught breaking the law faces up to $5,000 in fines or 30 days in jail.
That will change if Gov. Matt Bevin signs into law House Bill 263. This bill, which would legalize the sale of home-baked goods.
Kentucky is one of the only states to have a law like this. Forty-seven states allow non-farmers to sell their homemade goods. So I decided to take a stand against this ridiculous law and fight for the rights of home bakers like me who simply want to earn a living doing something they love.
I started the Kentucky Home Bakers group, and we have members across the state. While every baker has his or her own reason for wanting to sell their goods — pay for medical bills for cancer treatment, send their kids to dance class, or supplement their family’s income — one thing is clear: All we want to do is sell cookies and cakes to better ourselves and support our families.
Reforming Kentucky’s laws would help people who need to work at home and who cannot afford to spend tens of thousands of dollars to rent a commercial kitchen.
It would start hundreds of new small businesses and let many Kentuckians buy fresh and local goods from friends and neighbors.
This is America, the land of opportunity. Small businesses are what make our country great, and what make Kentucky great.
Jennifer Lopez of Paducah is the founder of Kentucky Home Bakers.