State Rep. Chapin Rose, a 38-year-old lawyer representing the rural area around Charleston, IL, is a man on a mission.
Starting his fifth term in the Illinois Assembly, the Republican lawmaker wants pictures on food stamp cards, only one license plate per car, and no state or local regulation of farmers markets.
Wednesday morning, the Illinois House Judiciary’s Civil Law Committee gave a “do pass” recommendation to Rose’s bill to deregulate food sold at farmers markets and charitable fund raising events.
House Bill 1483 got the green light after a quick public hearing and short debate by the committee charged with civil law matters.
Deregulating farmers markets in the Land of Lincoln is no small item. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), there are 287 active farmers markets in Illinois, including the Charleston Farmers Market in Rose’s hometown.
While Illinois is one of a handful of states where both chambers of the Legislature remain in Democratic hands, Rose is a veteran lawmaker with an ambitious list of his own legislation.
House Bill 1483, which is now headed to the Assembly floor for a vote, would amend the Illinois Food Handling Regulation Enforcement Act. It would prohibit the Illinois Department of Public Health and any unit of local government (cities and counties) from regulating the sale of food at either charitable fundraising events or farmers markets.
The deregulation bill could also apply to thousands of charitable fundraising events over the course of a year.
To escape the food safety police, a charitable funding raising event would have be sponsored by a fraternal or religious organization; involve food sales; and be held for the purpose of raising money for the sponsoring organization.
The bill would cover any farmers market held in a public space where “regional farmers” sell produce and other food items to the public.
The ease at which Rose brought his bill through the committee may be an indication of how exemption bills like this can gain bipartisan support. At the federal level, exempting smaller producers from the FDA Food Safety and Moderation Act came in an amendment sponsored by Montana Sen. Jon Tester and North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagen, both Democrats.
Another bill in the Illinois Assembly is SB 0137, which would deregulate certain “cottage” foods made in home kitchens. It has been assigned to the Public Health Committee, and ahearing has not yet been scheduled.