A legal complaint is drafted to challenge the constitutionality of Montana’s popular Local Food Choice Act, Food Safety News has learned. Montana’s Local Food Choice Act exempts home-cooked food producers from state licensing, licensing, certification, and labeling requirements (chap. 04 30).
Jeff Havens, Sanitation Manager of Public Health and Registered Sanitation since October 2012 for the Food and Consumer Safety Section of the Montana Department of Health and Human Services, is ready with the plaintiff’s filing Pro Se with Montana’s First Judicial District Court for Lewis and Clark County.
Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte and Adam Meier, the state’s director of health and human services, would be named as defendants.
The Montana Local Food Choice Act was signed into law by Governor Gianforte on April 30, 2021, after passing the Senate 31-18 on March 1 and the House on April 9 70-26. As a bill 199 of the Senate, the Local Food Choice Act was passed by the Montana Legislature primarily, but not entirely, on Republican votes. Its purpose is “to enable the sale and consumption of home-cooked foods and groceries and to encourage the expansion of agricultural sales by ranches, farms and home growers and the accessibility of foods and groceries. homemade products to informed end consumers. . .”
According to the draft complaint, the case has “been in the works for several months, but the plaintiff delayed filing, hoping that the negative health consequences resulting directly from the new law would be made public, new workload obligations additional costs caused by the new law would diminish, and the defendant Meier would exercise his constitutional authority to challenge the new law.
The draft complaint says the issues at issue are not being addressed in the best interest of public health and demands that the lawsuit continue.
“The constitutionality measure at issue is the failure to completely separate the subject of interstate commerce from intrastate commerce in former Senate Bill 199 of 2021, rendering its title unclear and the law void and unequal protection consumers for high-risk canned foods,” the project continues. .
Havens, a resident of Helena, Montana, also served as a contract investigator with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). He also names State Senator Greg Hertz, R-Polson, MT, as a defendant. Havens argues that SB199 “has also been advocated by the libertarian-conservative political advocacy group nqm4 ‘Americans for Prosperity’.
Senator Hertz was the main sponsor of SB199. He agreed to amend the bill to take The state’s federally sanctioned meat inspection program is harmless, meaning food produced under the “Law of Choice” cannot include meat.
The draft lawsuit says the Montana Local Food Choice Act “is negligently silent on the subject of food ingredients and food components that make up food products.”
Havens wants the Montana court to rule that the “true intent” of Montana’s local food choice law is “to avoid all interstate commerce and federal jurisdictional authority over such commercial foods.” He also says the law violates the Montana State Constitution because the bill “negligently fails to completely separate the subjects.” interstate trade food from intrastate trade food.
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