The Texas Baker’s Bill… Last Gasp!

Posted by DmentD | Coolness,Family,Links,Promotion,Spotlight,Stress | Wednesday 25 May 2011 4:34 pm

After fearing the Cottage Food Bill was dead in the House, turns out it’s still gasping for air!  It has actually passed the House, and is in the Senate as bill # SB 81, and has apparently gone round and round a few times already for amendments.  The unfortunate part is that we have less than a week for the Senate to pass it, or the legislative session will end and it’ll really be dead, not to be brought up again for another 2 years.

So, as before, I’m practically begging everyone to call and/or email your Senator and ask that they support SB 81 — specifically supporting it “as is” with the current crop of amendments, as there is little to no time to make any more.  The passing of this bill is the best chance for Sweets to get a legal baking business off the ground without having to scrape up  thousands of dollars in additional fees.  If you would like to help, I ask that you do so very, very soon.

Find out who your Senator is HERE.  More info on the progress of the bill is HERE.

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The Texas Baker’s Bill… Forward Momentum!

Posted by DmentD | Links,Promotion,Spotlight,Stress | Wednesday 27 April 2011 1:31 pm

Texas House of Representatives Bill #HB2084 (cottage foods, raw milk availability at a wider range of venues, Farmer’s Market support, etc) has been voted out of committee and is on its way to the House to (hopefully) be voted on.  Previously there were two bills supporting a Cottage Food industry in Texas — HB1139 and HB2084 — but HB2084 is the one that apparently got the most attention and support, so we’ll take any progress we can get.

This is the result of a lot of support from individuals contacting their Representatives and the Public Health Committee, and showing up at the public hearing for the bill and putting their names down in support.  This is way further than the bill got two years ago.

Now that the bill is out of committee, the broader membership of the Texas House of Representatives needs to be poked by their constituents, to be let known that they should support HB2084 when it comes up for a vote.  Again, the power of individuals holds a lot of weight here, and if enough noise is made the Representatives may just get the hint that the people they represent think something is important.  An individual voice doesn’t make a lot of noise, but thousands of them added together can raise a din and will start to get attention.

I am asking that you guys email, call, write… whatever, just reach out to your Representative and let them know you want them to support HB2084.  You can figure out who your Rep is HERE . While you’re at it, ask them to sign on as a Joint Author or Co-Author to show their support.  Forward this info to anyone you think may be willing to help out.

If the bill passes the House, we get to start over again with the Senate, but it’ll be a slightly easier road as it will already have momentum.  You can look forward to us bugging you again when that time comes.  *grins*

If this bill makes it through the House and Senate, this opens up a greater opportunity for Sweets to get the bakery business off the ground, legally and without the obnoxious start-up expenses it would take to operate out of a commercial kitchen environment – this would be a happy middle step on the way to that goal.  If you’ve enjoyed any of the yummy baked goods I’ve brought around, consider being able to get them all the time, and having that deliciousness unleashed in Austin.  Consider those treats you’ve already consumed as a down-payment on your willing cooperation in this matter. *grins* A lot of you aren’t very civic minded, so don’t do this for the greater good… do it for Sweets’ and mine.  It’ll only take a few minutes of your time.

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A Further Call To Arms! The Texas Baker’s Bill. Again.

Posted by DmentD | Aggravation,Links,Promotion,Spotlight,Stress | Monday 11 April 2011 1:05 pm

Well, the Cottage Food Bill is getting the runaround in the Texas Legislature again this year, and time is rapidly running out.  Shenanigans and stalling tactics, and it looks to be Rep. Lois Kolkhorst who has parked it in limbo again.  This blows.

So, the folks behind the bill are urging everyone to step up the game and contact (call and email) all the members of the Public Health Committee — the committee where the bill is stalled out, and that Rep. Kolkhorst is the Chair of.  They also encourage everyone to contact Rep. Joe Straus (Speaker of the House), Gov. Rick PerryLt. Governor David Dewhurst, and anyone else who will listen.

The email I wrote follows, if anyone is interested.  The full list of email addresses for the Public Health Committee is as follows (easy to just copy and paste as needed):

Lois.Kolkhorst@house.state.tx.us; Elliott.Naishtat@house.state.tx.us; Carol.Alvarado@house.state.tx.us; Garnet.Coleman@house.state.tx.us; Sarah.Davis@house.state.tx.us; Veronica.Gonzales@house.state.tx.us; Susan.King@house.state.tx.us; Jodie.Laubenberg@house.state.tx.us; Charles.Schwertner@house.state.tx.us; Vicki.Truitt@house.state.tx.us; John.Zerwas@house.state.tx.us;

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Dear members of the Public Health Committee,

In 2009 a bill was introduced into committee to provide for residential kitchens to legally produce low-risk baked goods — such as cakes and cookies, jams and preserves — and sell them directly to the public.  This bill stalled out in committee, essentially “dying on the vine” before it could even be considered for further action or a vote.

This year the community of Texas home bakers wishing to take their first steps into the light of legal enrichment tried again, and HB1139 was authored and introduced by Representative Eddie Rodriguez.  HB1139, after much outpouring of support from constituents from around the state, has picked up another author — Representative Coleman — and five additional co-authors —  Representatives Gallego, Gonzales, Jackson, Laubenberg & Schwertner (many of which are actually members of the Public Health Committee).  Additionally, and inexplicably, Representative Lois Kolkhorst, the committee Chair, has filed a similar bill in parallel, HB2084.

HB1139 was filed on February 7, then read and referred to the Public Health Committee on February 27.  Calls have been made and letters have been written in enthusiastic support to the various Texas Representatives by their constituents wishing to see HB1139 passed.  There has been copious media and internet coverage in support of this bill.  Social networks have been buzzing for months about this.

Unfortunately, both bills still wither on the vine, and as in 2009 Representative Lois Kolkhorst appears to be the leading source of the roadblock, while her parallel bill appears to be an attempt to dilute the impact of the original.  We, who have been following with great interest, have repeatedly been fed promises of “next week”, and “soon”, and we’re growing a little weary of being put off with friendly words and a smile.  This gives off the whiff of a stalling tactic so that these bills will just disappear once more, buried, while the public that yearn for it are placated like so many noisy children.

There are eighteen other States that have passed Cottage Food Laws, the most recent being Arizona in February 2011.  There a five other States considering Cottage Food Laws right now.  Why are we not being allowed to join their ranks, granting an opportunity for financial independence for individuals and culinary diversity?

The passing of a Cottage Food Law will allow individuals and small groups of home bakers to generate revenue in this otherwise tepid economical landscape.  That revenue is subject to local sales tax (more money for the State!), income tax, and spending cash in the pockets of the bakers themselves to help stimulate the local economies.  It would help build small businesses that may one day flourish into larger enterprises, creating even more jobs and revenue along the way.  It would allow individuals to ply a trade they truly enjoy, flexing their creative culinary skills, making for a happier person.  It would allow people to fulfill their dreams, to be independent, and to do what they love.

I can’t speak for the rest of Texas, but Austin is fiercely proud of its reputation for locally owned and operated businesses and the eclectic atmosphere that comes when the majority of the shops are run by individuals and not mega-corporations and chains.  Think of the vast variety of tastes and styles, ethnic and cultural confections that only ever get served up at the family table… then imagine those miraculously being available in farmer’s markets and little stalls and shops around town, all across the State.

Don’t allow the Committee to let this pass by — again — without giving it a chance to flourish.  I ask that you reach out to them and encourage the members of the Committee to nurture these seeds, water and feed them, bring them into the light of day and let them ripen into a glorious opportunity for individuals and the State of Texas.  They should bring this bill into the light and let the House have a chance to put it to a vote.  Please do your part and give these bills some forward momentum.

Thank you for your time and attention.

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A Call To Arms! The Texas Baker’s Bill.

Posted by DmentD | Coolness,Family,Friends,Links,Promotion,Spotlight,Stress | Friday 11 February 2011 8:09 pm

Yeah, I know, I’m likely to catch hell from you guys for this… but it’s worth it if it helps at all.

I spammed y’all in 2009 about this, but it’s come full circle again in 2011 – the Texas Cottage Food Law.  Currently it’s illegal in Texas for the operation of a food-based business from a residential kitchen, even if it’s “non-potentially hazardous” foods that are at a low risk for spoilage, specifically bakery products and some other foods — jams, jellies, and salsas — that are considered low-risk for spoilage because they are not able to support the growth of potentially harmful organisms and do not require refrigeration.  This makes it prohibitively expensive and complex to start up a small bakery business. The passing of this bill would allow, with appropriate licensing, home-based bakery style businesses.

Most anyone reading this post knows a married couple in Texas that have been trying to quietly drum up business while flying below the radar for some time now.  They can’t really advertise, as that would call unwanted attention to them, so it’s all word of mouth.  They can’t approach places like coffee houses or other little retail establishments to get them to buy their goods, can’t get a stall at a farmer’s market, etc.  Which means that growth is negligible.  If the Cottage Food Law passes, They could (as early as September) get started making a lot of noise and picking up some business.

What does this mean to everyone?  Well, to get the bill passed, those of you living in Texas have to let legislators know that they want them to support it, and to do that folks need to call and/or write them.  There is a site out there with info on the bill, and what to do/how to help.

Texas Cottage Food Law (they’re on Facebook too).

Those good folks are even providing a letter template, the best way to conduct yourself on the call, along with how to find who your local legislators are.

Even if you don’t intend to actually call or write (and I heartily encourage you to do so!), maybe you could pass the information along – email, Facebook, Twitter (there is a hashtag group on twitter — #texasbakersbill — so follow/use that if you go that route), etc.  The more people who know about it, the greater the percentage of people who will call/write.  C’mon, this is the modern age, and social networking rules the land… there’s no reason this information can’t be spread far and wide in relatively no time at all.

The passing of this bill will allow individuals and small groups of home bakers to generate some revenue in this otherwise tepid economical landscape.  That revenue is subject to local sales tax (more money for the Texas state coffers!), income tax (moolah for the Feds!), and spending cash in the pockets of the bakers themselves to help stimulate the local economy.  It would help build small businesses that may one day flourish into larger enterprises, creating even more jobs and revenue along the way. It would allow individuals to ply a trade they truly enjoy, flexing their creative culinary skills, making for a happier person.

I can’t speak for the rest of Texas, but Austin is fiercely proud of it’s reputation for locally owned and operated businesses and the eclectic atmosphere that comes when the majority of the shops are run by individuals and not mega-corporations and chains.  Think of the vast variety of tastes and styles, ethnic and cultural confections that only ever get served up at the family table… then imagine those miraculously being available in farmer’s markets and little stalls and shops around town, all across the State.

It was once stated (quite sadly by a member of the committee with her hands on the bill in 2009 — her name rhymes with “Lois W. Kolkhorst“) that home baking businesses were “the worst kept secret” in Texas, and it was asked why there was need for a law to make it legal?  Go ahead and read this post from the beginning again, I think I’ve covered that quite nicely already.  Seriously, who would oppose passing a law to let people come out of hiding, become legitimate, start paying taxes and earning income above board?  These legislators have other agendas… they simply must.

The bill has been filed with the Texas House of Representatives — HB1139here’s the text of it.  The next step is for it to get assigned to a committee, then read before that committee (which, by the way, is open to the public… so why not show up in support of it?).  Then it goes up for a vote, and if that works out well it gets passed to the Texas Senate to be voted on.

So, Texans (and family of Texans who can poke their kin with a sharp stick for us), we need to be BIG and LOUD about this.  This needs to be more than just a fart in a hurricane.  Put it on the radar of your legislators.  Make yourself heard, dammit!

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Least I Could Do.

Posted by DmentD | Entertainment,Links,Promotion,Spotlight | Thursday 15 October 2009 12:00 am

In an apparent continuation of pimping webcomics I enjoy, here’s another: Least I Could Do.

Chronicling the day-to-day life story of Rayne Summers, the primary theme of the strip is sexuality… especially the promiscuity of the primary character.  It’s snort-out-loud funny at times, and quite touching (figuratively and literally) at others.

While always written by Ryan Sohmer, the comic has been drawn by three artists through the years… the most current being Lar deSouza– and in my opinion he’s the best… the meld of visual and writing comedy just gelled when they teamed up.  The comic is updated seven days a week.  The duo of Ryan and Lar also publish a second webcomic — Looking for Group, a fantasy based strip that is updated twice weekly.

I suggest, if you’re interested in reading the back-archives to catch up, starting HERE.  That marks the beginning of Lar’s takeover of drawing the comic.

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Against The Dead.

Posted by DmentD | Coolness,Entertainment,Friends,Links,Promotion,Spotlight | Wednesday 14 October 2009 11:49 am

Martin Whitmore — my obnoxiously talented friend and illustrator — has been developing a d20 zombie apocalypse game for about a year now.  The official title is “Against the Dead”.  I know, I’m excited too. *glee*

Against the Dead - Cover Preview

He’s already amassed 70+ original illustrations for the book, and is looking to “flesh it out” with some more zombie-massacre (and flesh-eating) action shots.  In order to generate some capital to offset the costs of putting the book together, he’s offering — for a  nominal fee — to put a custom illustration of YOU in the book… as either a survivor or one of the unholy walking dead:

In both cases you can make requests as to the details of the drawing, which I will fill to the best of my ability with respect to what we still need in the book. Feel free to suggest weapons, equipment — whatever would make you happy. If I can make it suit the book, I will. Depending on how many people are interested, I may put multiple subjects into a single illustration – we do need some action shots of survivors killing zombies, and vice-versa!

$20 to be a zombie, $30 to be a survivor.  Your donation gets you into the pages of Against the Dead, as well as a signed print of your illustration.

Go HERE for more details, and to get your ugly mug into the book.

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ArtJournal Chai.

Posted by DmentD | Cooking,Coolness,Links,Promotion,Spotlight | Thursday 17 September 2009 11:26 am

Here’s an ArtJournal Chai Tea Syrup Recipe by Lucy Knisley, presented as only an illustrator can.  Looks tasty, actually, and I know there are chai tea lovers out there that read my blog.  Enjoy.

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Yet Another Zombie Webcomic.

Posted by DmentD | Coolness,Entertainment,Links,Promotion,Spotlight | Thursday 17 September 2009 9:47 am

Yes, the soft spot I have for the living dead is well known (I think it’s my abdomen…), and I ‘ve run across another very worthy webcomic.  Raising Hell by Andy Belanger, who is also a freelance artist at DC Comics, Transmission-x, Oni Press and IDW.  Here’s a preview:

And oh yes… I WILL make the bladed goalie stick to have in my weapons arsenal.  It is made of dreams and awesomeness… and cold hard steel.

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