“Free the Lemonade Stand” Bill Promises Business Opportunity for Pennsylvania Youth

Photo by PhotoMIX Company from Pexels in Public Domain at https://www.pexels.com/photo/lemon-fruits-96974/

If you ever set up a lemonade stand in your neighborhood to make a couple of bucks as a kid, it is likely you were breaking the law.

In many states across the country, it is illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to operate a small business without a permit. Pennsylvania is currently one of those states, but a new bill is hoping to change the requirements.  

In a bill he is calling “Free the Lemonade Stand,” Rep. Johnathan Hershey, R-Mifflin County is proposing amendments to Title 53 (Municipalities Generally) and Title 68 (Real and Personal Property) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, providing for businesses operated by minors. The bill would allow Pennsylvania minors to take on small business ventures without receiving a permit.

A recent nationwide trend has been ignited in response to different stories of children’s lemonade stands getting shut down and their parents getting fined for it. One extreme example happened back in 2011 when a Maryland county inspector administered a $500 fine to the grandparents of children who were selling lemonade without a permit outside of a country club.

The Pennsylvania bill follows similar legislation across the country. Many of the bills are supported by Country Time, the powdered lemonade brand owned by Kraft Foods. Until last year, the company ran a program called “Country Time Legal-Ade” that paid fines imposed on children operating illegal lemonade stands.

The bill extends beyond lemonade stands to different types of minor-run businesses such as shoveling driveways or mowing lawns without a permit. It allows those under the age of 18 to operate a business without a license if their profits are under $5,000, and if they are open for less than 84 days a year. The bill is not without limits, though. The bill prevents minors from operating their business in a location where it is in direct competition with a business that is required to get a license. It also requires that the minor’s business must operate in a primarily residential area or un-zoned area.

 In support of the bill, Rep. Hershey said the bill will allow minors to run a business in a limited way without fear of retribution from their local municipality. He said, “The short-term jobs that these kids have and the businesses they start benefit them for a lifetime. It teaches marketing skills. It teaches bookkeeping skills and allows our young entrepreneurs the freedom to operate.”

“Free the Lemonade Stand” passed the House unanimously and now goes to the Senate for consideration.

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