Bill Would Cut Red Tape for Kid Entrepreneurs

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A bill that would allow Colorado minors to operate lemonade stands and other small businesses in the state without being required to obtain licenses or permits is being considered by the General Assembly.

The bill is in part a response to a story about Stapleton kids selling lemonade over Memorial Day weekend last year, only to be shut down by Denver police after vendors at the Denver Arts Festival reported the kids, according to The Denver Post. The kids were told they needed three different permits to operate legally, one of which would cost $100 per day.

In September, Denver City Council passed an ordinance to exempt lemonade stands from food licensing laws. The bill being considered by the legislature looks to make a measure similar to the City Council’s lemonade stand exemption statewide.

Senate Bill 19-103 would prohibit counties and municipalities in the state from requiring minors who run small businesses to obtain licenses or permits. To be exempt, the businesses must operate on an "occasional basis," which the bill defines as not operating more than 84 days in a year.

Denver ABC 7 reported that young entrepreneurs set up stands inside of the Capitol on Monday to show their support for the bill.

During a Senate Business, Labor, & Technology Committee hearing on Monday, Sen. Angela Williams, D-Denver, who sponsored the bill and chairs the committee, said the legislation would encourage youth entrepreneurship.

"Currently the law poses a distinct possibility of criminal and civil penalty to children who are participating in childhood activities such as operating a lemonade stand, or shoveling snow, doing lawn-mowing, or running a bake sale," she said. "Senate Bill 103 will correct this problem … by allowing minors to explore their entrepreneur sides by removing the red tape."

Williams also said the legislation would require the minor-run business be operated at a "sufficient distance" from other commercial entities so "that they are not a direct economic competitor."

The National Federation of Independent Business’ Colorado director, Tony Gagliardi, praised to legislation in a statement.

"What Senate Bill 103 would do is allow minors to explore their entrepreneurial side by removing the red-tape in legally running a small, occasional business," he said. "The bill will prohibit any municipality, city, or county government or any other agency of local government from requiring a license or permit for such small, occasional businesses such as lemonade stands, provided the business is operated fewer than 84 days per year and is located enough distance from another commercial entity."

A fiscal note for SB 19-103 said it would reduce local government revenues but would minimally impact workload.

The committee referred the bill to the Senate Committee of the Whole.