Two Minnesota home bakers have dropped a lawsuit challenging a state law that limits the sale of cake, cookies and jams to $5,000 annually after Gov. Mark Dayton last month signed a bill into law that more than triples the limit and adds minor regulations.

“It seemed like an outdated, unjust law,” said Mara Heck of St. Paul, who works in the insurance industry. “That I [couldn’t] sell more than $5,000 worth of products unless I was at a farmers market. I love to bake, and it’s something I might want to do full time from my home at some point. I just didn’t want this outdated law to ever stop me.

“I think the legislation is a good compromise. I want my buyers and the state to know my ingredients and what I am making is healthy and safe to consume. I cook mostly organic. Just did a first birthday party with cookies and cupcakes. Everything had strawberries in them.”

A “cottage foods exemption” amendment to an agricultural bill liberalized the former law that governed the sale of home-baked and canned goods. It permits direct sales to consumers, including community events and farmers markets, of up to $18,000 annually. The regulations include that each product be accurately labeled to provide the name and address of the food maker, the date on which contents were prepared or canned, and ingredients. A food entrepreneur with more than $5,000 in sales must pay a $50 registration fee to the commissioner of agriculture. And anyone who prepares and sells homemade food of more than $5,000 in sales also must take an education course of several hours.

Heck and co-plaintiff Jane Astramecki were represented by the Washington-based Institute of Justice in a suit filed in November 2013 that challenged the “arbitrary rules” governing their ability to sell more than $5,000 annually.

A Minnesota trial court dismissed the lawsuit last year. However, the Minnesota Court of Appeals reversed that decision and reinstated the claim in May. The court said it was “particularly concerned with the lack of evidence in the record … that shows how the venue and sale-cap restrictions are genuine or relevant” to public health concerns by state regulators.

Momoh will be a first with Hennepin bar association

Adine Momoh, an accomplished daughter of immigrants from Sierra Leone, is on course to be the youngest and the first black woman to be president of the Hennepin County Bar Association.

Momoh, 31, a six-year commercial litigator with Stinson Leonard Street, this month joins the executive committee of the county bar association. That puts her on a five-year leadership track to serve as president in 2018-19, the Hennepin bar association’s 100th year.

“I’ve been involved with the bar association since I started practicing in 2009,” Momoh said last week. “And having some ground-level background helped me to make the decision to become part of five-year leadership track.

“I have a sense of what members need and what new lawyers want. I also have a sense of how we can increase involvement of attorneys of color and add value for them. And help attract and retain them.”

A graduate of the University of St. Thomas and William Mitchell College of Law, Momoh focuses on commercial, securities, estate-and-trust litigation and bankruptcy. She has been honored for her above-average hours devoted to pro bono clients. And in February was one of three finalists in the American Bar Association’s 2014 National Outstanding Young Lawyer for her professional excellence, service to the legal profession and bar, and service to the community. She was nominated by the Minnesota and Hennepin County bar associations’ “new lawyers” sections for the honor.

Momoh, who grew up in St. Paul’s Midway, worked her way through high school and college, where she posted a 4.0 GPA in business, pre-law and psychology studies. She earned a full scholarship to law school and graduated 14th out of 269 students.

Business wins with early-education funding

Economist Art Rolnick, former research director at the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank, demonstrated more than a decade ago the economic value of preparing kids for kindergarten. Rolnick, now at the University of Minnesota, was key to getting more money in June from the Minnesota Legislature, an increase of nearly $50 million to $104 million over the next two fiscal years, for early-learning programs, starting with needy 3-year-olds through Head Start, public schools and licensed private operators.

He also was a key voice of business stakeholders who opposed Gov. Mark Dayton’s plan to provide free preschool to all 4-year-olds in favor of a lesser amount targeted directly at the 40 percent-plus of kids, disproportionately poor and minorities, who are considered not ready for kindergarten.

“Minnesota has one of the highest achievement gaps in the country and a high percentage of our children of color do not graduate high school,” Rolnick said. “By focusing our limited public resources on our most vulnerable children and investing as early as prenatal, research shows that not only can we close the achievement gap, but we can prevent it. By investing in our most vulnerable children, we will help to ensure that Minnesota will continue to have a highly skilled workforce and one of the best economies in the country.”

Kids not prepared for kindergarten have been shown to disproportionately fall behind, drop out later and fail to reach their potential and also drive spending for social services, cops and courts.

 

IT, nonprofit leader will head Minnesota IT-Ready program

Sue Wallace, a veteran of the IT industry who spent the past 14 years working for Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Minneapolis, is the new executive director of the Creating IT Futures Foundation of Minnesota. She will work with employers to train more disadvantaged and diverse young people for IT futures through the IT-Ready training.

IT Futures Foundation, philanthropic arm of the IT industry association, has trained 120 out-of-work, disproportionately minority Minnesotans for free for IT occupations, since 2012. Eighty percent got full-time jobs after eight weeks of technical and soft-skills training and earning the CompTIA A+ certification for desktop, customer and technical support positions.