California Governor Jerry Brown
Photo: Alex Wong (Getty Images)

California Governor Jerry Brown is well-known for his progressive and environmental efforts, and a few bills he just signed into law in California continue to bear that history out. First, the San Francisco Chronicle reports that California is now the first state to ban restaurants from handing out plastic straws unless a customer asks for one. The law is intended to help eliminate plastic waste, but is small in scope: It only applies to dine-in restaurants, where fast-food establishments use many more straws. Brown said: “We must find ways to reduce and eventually eliminate single-use plastic products.”

Another new law allows home cooks to sell their food directly to the public. A previous 2012 statute approved the sales of foods like jams, pickles, and other foods with low risk of foodborne illness. This law encompasses more foods, and also includes important safety precautions. The Chronicle notes, “To obtain a permit to sell food prepared at home, cooks must obtain the same food managers’ certification as restaurant professionals do and agree to an inspection of their kitchen.” They can only sell straight to consumers directly, though, and not through mail-order or delivery services, for example. And if they “gross more than $50,000 a year, they will have to move to a commercial kitchen.”

Proponents of the law praise it for decriminalizing a fairly standard practice. Which is good news for food-stand purveyors and bake-sale enthusiasts.