Capitol food fight: Arizona lawmakers fail to override veto of cottage food bill

Lawmakers in the Arizona House failed to get enough votes on April 25 to override a veto on a bill related to homemade food.

Gov. Katie Hobbs vetoed House Bill 2509, which would have expanded the homemade foods that people could sell legally, including hot foods, like tamales.

Hobbs vetoed the bill last week, citing safety concerns.

Lawmakers in the House failed to get enough votes to override Hobbs' veto. Democrats in the House and Senate previously said they wouldn't provide the votes needed.

Democratic State Rep. Alma Hernandez is among lawmakers who broke ranks with her party in support of the override.

"I am very disappointed in many of my colleagues who I've had conversations with over the weekend who have, all of the sudden, changed their votes," Hernandez said Tuesday. "Why? I'll tell you why. Because they are too afraid of voting against the governor. Because they want to protect the governor, although we are a separate branch, and we were elected by our constituents, not by Governor Hobbs."


Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs sets veto record in 1st legislative session

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Food vendors were on hand Tuesday in support of the legislation.

This could have been the first veto override since 1981.

"Is it against the law buying tamales? It is … from a woman here selling tamales," said Republican Rep. Teresa Martinez. "The governor told those Democrats, you will vote no, and they said OK."

After the official vote, some representatives made it a point to buy some homemade foods being sold at the Capitol.

"I almost voted yes, nobody is talking about barbecue, nobody is talking about hamburgers, because they want to target the Latino community in this caucus. Some people are pandering to the Latino community like they actually care about us," said Democratic lawmaker Cesar Aguilar.

Generally, members voted along party lines, except for five Democrats.

"Everyone is saying 'oh, you’re so brave. I wasn’t elected by the executive tower," Hernandez said. Everyone kept telling me the same thing, we know it’s the right thing to do, but we can’t politically do this. It doesn’t look good on Democrats. We have to stick together, although we know it’s the right thing to do."

Cottage food vendors say they’re disappointed the override didn’t get the votes it needed.

Fernando Gonzales with the Libre Initiative said, "They don't come here asking for welfare, they're here to support their families, have an opportunity to cook the food, take it and sell it, without fear of prosecution."

"For those that don't have the resources to be able to do that, open kitchens and things like that, it hurts because that stifles what we can do at home, versus being able to go out and do that in a large capacity," said Brannon Haley, owner of EATz & TREATz.

In a letter explaining her veto decision, Hobbs said the bill would increase the risk of food-borne illness by expanding the ability of vendors to sell high-risk foods.