From veto to law: Hobbs signs ‘tamale bill’ to loosen rules for Arizona food vendors

After an uproar last year when she vetoed a similar bill, Gov. Katie Hobbs has signed this year’s version of the “tamale bill.” 

When it becomes law later this year,
it will allow home cooks who sell food to the public to expand their
offerings to include items that require refrigeration, like tamales and

Last year’s bill received wide bipartisan support, but Hobbs surprised lawmakers by vetoing it after the Arizona Department of Health Services opposed the bill, citing safety concerns.

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, as well as people on social media, were in an uproar saying that Hobbs was hurting Arizona’s Latino community, including grandmothers who were selling their homemade tamales at risk of a $500 fine and up to six months in jail. 

Then, Republicans attempted to overturn
the veto with a two-third majority vote in the House, but several
Democrats who initially favored the bill balked at repudiating Hobbs and
voted against overriding the veto. 

The sponsor of last year’s bill, Rep. Travis Grantham, R-Gilbert, reintroduced the same legislation this year as House Bill 2042, with several edits that he said were partially inspired by issues that Hobbs brought up in her veto letter. 

The bill passed through the House
with unanimous support, and was approved by the Senate by a vote of
17-11 on March 25, with only Democrats voting against it. The only
Democrat in the Senate who voted in favor of the bill was Sen. Theresa
Hatathlie, of Coal Mine Mesa. 

The changes from last year’s bill to
this one include the definition of a “home kitchen” as one inside a
residential home that is not larger than 1,000 square feet, to address
concerns that some might use the law to get around restrictions placed
on other food preparation businesses, Grantham said during a Jan. 17
committee meeting. 

The amended version of the bill also
includes a requirement to disclose pet allergens present in a home where
the food was prepared and stipulates that the food labels must include a
web address where consumers can report foodborne illness, find out how
to verify that a home cook is registered with the state and contact
information for reporting issues with a home cook’s registration status.