Gov. Hobbs vetoes bipartisan bill legalizing sale of hot home-cooked food

Republican lawmaker Travis Grantham thought bipartisan support was enough for the bill to pass the governor's desk, but Gov. Katie Hobbs vetoed the bill.
Published: Apr. 19, 2023 at 6:01 PM MST|Updated: Apr. 20, 2023 at 5:59 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Gov. Katie Hobbs continues her record-setting string of vetoes of Republican-sponsored bills. This one had bipartisan support that was supposed to help small businesses, specifically food vendors. Hobbs has preached bipartisanship and may have united Republicans and Democrats against her on the issue of street food.

Before Imelda Hartley opened her restaurant ‘Happy Tamales,’ she made them in her home and sold them in front of the laundromat to make ends meet. Under state law, it’s illegal, a grade three misdemeanor, and could result in a day behind bars for each offense. It was a price she was willing to pay to take care of her family. “I was worried about taking care of all of my children, paying rent, putting food on my table, you name it,” said Hartley.

Republican State Rep. Travis Grantham introduced the bill to legalize what so many people already do, cook homemade food and sell it. It only got 15 dissenting votes, with Republicans and Democrats voting it through to the Governor’s Office. “I think people should be able to cook what they love to cook at home and sell it to people who want to buy it,” said Grantham.

But the Arizona Department of Health Services and Arizona Restaurant Association don’t think so, claiming the legislation is unsafe. “A lot of it comes down to construction of the statute and unintended consequences,” said Dan Bogert, Arizona Restaurant Association’s chief operating officer. “The way it’s written, you can go out and build a 5000 square foot kitchen, and you can call it a residence and run a ghost kitchen. You can essentially be a restaurant and fall outside of our regulatory system.”

Grantham pushed back on concerns calling them ridiculous, stating that any neighborhood wouldn’t allow such zoning. Ultimately, Gov. Hobbs vetoed the bill citing a ‘significant increase in the risk of foodborne illness.’ “I have 14 children, and I cooked for them for 30 years, and no one has ever gotten sick from me cooking for them,” said Hartley.

Grantham said he’s calling for a veto override from fellow lawmakers on Monday.