Lemonade stand freedom coming to Georgia

The Georgia General Assembly just passed “The Georgia Lemonade Stand Act,” legislation that would remove regulations on businesses run by minors.

We’ve all seen the videos of kids across the country being traumatized after an over-zealous HOA influencer or a neighborhood watch captain with too much time on their hands calls the cops on a lemonade stand. While this usually leads to derision directed at the narc or the law enforcement involved, until this bill becomes law, they are legally in the right. Local governments typically require a license or permit for a minor to run a business like a lemonade stand.

Perhaps some people are unwavering sticklers for food and health regulations even in the silliest instances, maybe some people just don’t like children. But the “victimless crime” cliché certainly comes to mind in these instances.

Popular sentiment seems to be in agreement, and lawmakers in several states have followed suit in the past few years, as several states have already passed similar versions of the Lemonade Stand Bill.

Georgia’s bill, Senate Bill 55, sponsored by Sen. Elena Parent, D-Atlanta, forbids any government entity from requiring a license or permit for a business operated by a minor on private property that generates $5,000 or less in a calendar year through the selling of non-consumables or non-hazardous consumables. It explicitly mentions lemonade.

Lemonade stands are a time-honored summer tradition for reasons that are fairly apparent. Children need something to do during the months when they aren’t in school, and most people enjoy lemonade. Beyond that, as Empower Mississippi pointed out earlier this year, the lemonade stand speaks to the American entrepreneurial spirit. 

Parents should support and encourage children to take initiative, to work hard and to learn the value of a dollar. These are by no means novel concepts. Unfortunately, the government needs something to do over the summer, too.

A more cynical think tank might point out that navigating burdensome regulations and barriers to work is also an important skill for children to learn. Or perhaps our kids should learn through experience what it’s like to have another seller shut down your innovative startup, as a 7-year old from New York found out when he undercut some nearby fair trade vendors by selling lemonade for $0.75 a cup compared to the vendors’ $7.00 price tag.

The Georgia Public Policy Foundation has written in favor of measures to eliminate barriers to work and outlined the importance of ensuring a free economy. While the Lemonade Stand Act will not have the kind of economic and social impact as legislation that allows workers to keep their occupational licenses when they move to Georgia from out of state or that makes it easier for Georgians with criminal records to work, it sends the right message and is the right thing to do. 

One Georgia lawmaker told Fresh Take Georgia that she opposes the Act to protect local government authority and because kids need to learn about regulations on food and safety. If we are presented with a dichotomous choice (we aren’t, but bear with me here), should we teach kids the lesson that emphasizes hard work, financial responsibility and fun? Or should we teach the one where police officers show up to shut you down if you don’t do what a busy-bodied neighbor and some harbingers of mediocrity at city hall tell you.

Apparently, Georgia has endorsed the former, at least in this case. Whether a reaction to several publicized incidents of draconian enforcement of petty regulations or in keeping with other state-level efforts to remove barriers to work – or a combination of both – state lawmakers made the right call here. Local regulators will have to find a different summer hobby.

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