Is it possible that enough cottage food bills got passed to carry the economy through to recovery, that most folks are happy with their raw-milk laws, and that the once-heralded “food freedom” movement never got out of a few towns in Maine (whose names no one can remember now)? State legislatures in California, Montana, Wisconsin, Ohio and Maine have already gaveled their 2015 sessions to order, according to the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). Legislatures in 42 states, five territories and the District of Columbia kick off their 2015 sessions sometime this month. But food-safety topics often targeted by state lawmakers since 2010 may not be getting as much attention in 2015 as they did previously. Food safety did not make the 2015 list of “hot issues” prepared by NCSL analysts. “As lawmakers roll up their sleeves to begin work on many important issues, state fiscal conditions, at least, are stronger than they have been for several years. With only a few exceptions, state finances continue to improve slowly but steadily from the depths of the Great Recession,” writes NCSL’s Julie Lays. “NCSL’s most recent fiscal survey of the states found most spending in line with appropriated levels for FY 2015. In fact, as the New Year approached, only Medicaid and corrections in a couple of states were running over-budget,” she notes. Financially stronger states should be good news for state and local health departments, which, since 2008, saw personnel cuts reducing everything from restaurant and grocery store inspections to their capacities for investigating illnesses spread by food and water sources. This past November, Republicans took control of both chambers in 30 states, the most since 1920. The GOP took over 11 formerly Democratic chambers and gained roughly 290 new House and Senate seats, for control of about 4,100 of the nation’s total 7,383 legislative seats. And Republicans ended up controlling 33 governor’s offices after ousting Democrats in the mostly “blue states” of Arkansas, Illinois, Maryland and Massachusetts. After that first GOP surge taking over state legislative seats in 2010, about two dozen states adopted so-called cottage food laws, which made it legal to use home kitchens to make certain low-risk foods. Home kitchens were usually exempted from licensing and inspections, and such bills often passed over the objection of state and local food-safety officials. Cottage food laws were also sold as an economic development strategy in hard-pressed states. States have also looked at a lot of raw-milk bills since 2010, but those battles have not really produced much change in policy, and it’s possible lawmakers will take a break from raw milk in 2015. At present, 12 states ban retail sales of raw milk for human consumption, 10 allow raw milk sales at the retail level, and 28 allow raw milk to be sold only on the farm or through herd-share agreements. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration bans the interstate sale and/or transportation of raw milk. Introduction of raw-milk bills appears to have slowed significantly from previous years, but it’s still early. If raw milk does fall off the legislative table, an indication may come in Wisconsin, where the 2015 session got underway on Monday. The Wisconsin Legislature did lift its raw-milk ban in 2010, but the bill was vetoed by former Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle. In the five years since, attempts to lift the ban haven’t come close. In Montana, where the biennial legislative session also got underway on Monday, no food-safety bills have been introduced or even drafted. However, according to a draft bill, Big Sky Country lawmakers may call for a top-to-bottom review of the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services. Nor does it appear that the Ohio Legislature, which also went into session on Monday, has anything on its food-safety agenda. Maybe an early bill filing in Florida reveals what might pass for “food safety” legislation this year. Florida and Utah are the only two states that do not allow consumers to take beer home from craft breweries in so-called “growlers.” That’s what craft brewers call half-gallon refillable jugs. A pair of Florida lawmakers is out to get their state off that list by making growlers as legal as 32-ounce and 128-ounce jugs are today. Why aren’t growlers legal in the secular state of Florida? It seems that big brewers such as Budweiser have held the issue hostage until they get what they want, such as on-site tasting rooms. But they may be coming around to also supporting a “clean bill” for growlers. Craft brewing is booming in Florida, with $432 million in sales in 2013 and 4,080 related jobs. Florida Gov. Rick Scott says he’ll sign the growler bill. Craft brewing just might be on a roll. The waste product from the brewing process (known as “spent grain”), which is often fed to animals, was exempted from the Food Safety Modernization Act in 2014.