Councilmember’s Corner: Lemonade stands should be legal for kids

A tiny Petworth resident takes her first steps into capitalism with a lemonade stand (it was delicious, by the way)

by Brandon Todd
Ward 4 Councilmember

Neighborhood lemonade stands are the ultimate symbol of American entrepreneurship and have become a pipeline for young entrepreneurs. Early age entrepreneurship helps our youth learn business skills, responsibility, financial literacy, goal setting, and teamwork.

However, over the past couple of years, there have been several news stories about children’s lemonade stands being shut down or fined by police for not having a permit. In 2017, three teens were detained for selling water on the National Mall. I believe that youth entrepreneurship should be applauded, not punished.

On July 9th, I introduced, along with every member of the Council, the Lemonade Stand Amendment Act of 2019, which allows minors in the District of Columbia to operate temporary businesses without having to obtain a basic business license or a vending site permit. The legislation is not limited to lemonade stands. It opens a world of opportunities for our budding entrepreneurs. So, whether it’s selling lemonade or brownies or handmade gifts, youth in the District will be able to transform their ideas into promising enterprises without paying permit fees and fines.

There are too many examples of minors receiving tickets while engaged in the exact entrepreneurial activities that we should be encouraging. The ability to innovate and to be a self-starter are important skills that are only learned through hands-on experience. Every child should be able have fun while practicing the entrepreneurial skills that will help in their later endeavors.

Across the country, “lemonade stand” laws are being considered and passed. Colorado passed legislation in 2017 prohibiting local governments from requiring minors to get a business license to run lemonade stands. Earlier this month, Texas signed a bill making it legal for kids to operate temporary lemonade stands. In fact, lemonade stands are only legal in 14 states. Unfortunately, the District of Columbia is not one. I believe it is time for that to change.  

I firmly believe that government should promote youth entrepreneurship. The legislation I introduced supports and encourages the entrepreneurial ambition of children across the District and will allow our future tycoons-in-the-making the opportunity to begin their enterprising path to becoming business owners.

See also on DCist: DC Council stands united on… lemonade stands

See all of Brandon Todd's posts on the Councilmember's Corner:

Brandon Todd

Brandon Todd is the DC Councilmember for Ward 4 in Washington DC.

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