DC Council moves to lift lemonade stand restrictions

Children running a lemonade stand or other small-scale, limited time business in D.C. are technically required to get a business license and/or a vending site permit (and similar restrictions apply in most other states). But the D.C. Council will vote on legislation to lift those restrictions.

Councilmember Brandon Todd, D-Ward 4, introduced a bill Tuesday called the Lemonade Stand Amendment Act of 2019 that would allow minors to operate a small-scale business as long as the business is in operation for no more than 100 days, and the business is located a reasonable distance from a licensed commercial entity.

“Examples of harassment of minors for engaging in entrepreneurial activities such as running a lemonade stand or selling water have become far too common,” Todd said in introducing his bill. “Particularly when we should be encouraging our youth to be entrepreneurs and self-starters.”

If passed, it would allow minors to sell lemonade or run their small business, and prevent them from being stopped by local law enforcement.

“Teaching our young people about entrepreneurship at an early age encourages them to think creatively, develop a strong work ethic and to set goals to achieve what they want,” Todd said.

All other D.C. Council members signed on as a co-sponsor to the bill.

D.C. is not alone in addressing the lemonade stand issue.

In 2017, Colorado passed legislation preventing local governments from requiring minors to get a business license to run a small, occasional business.

In May, the governor of Texas signed a bill making it legal for kids to sell lemonade at stands.

And in New York, a bill to prevent New York health inspectors from shutting down children’s lemonade stands was recently unanimously passed by the Senate Health Committee.

Even the lemonade industry is getting involved.

Last year, Country Time Lemonade created a limited fund to help pay for fines and permits for kids nationwide who want to run their own lemonade stands. That initiative is called “Legal-Ade,” and covers up to $300 for lemonade stands that were fined in 2017 or 2018, or for permits bought this year.

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Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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