June 23, 2017 Print

Lemonade stands are legal again in Utah. The Libertas Institute, an Atlas Network partner based in Utah, works to defend individual liberty, private property, and free enterprise. In advocating for the home business owners of Utah, Libertas works with the state legislature in attempts to end the crushing bureaucracy — which recently impacted children selling lemonade.

“The American dream has become suppressed through over-regulation and bureaucracy," said Connor Boyack, president of Libertas Institute.

In a video, Nichelle Aiden of Libertas explains that any person generating any income from selling services or goods from his or her home is required to pay a fee and obtain a license. Unfortunately, because of current Utah law, children “operating lemonade stands, babysitting, or mowing lawns” would need to obtain a permission slip to practice their entrepreneurial skills.

Libertas wanted to prevent young entrepreneurs from jumping through hoops to sell a glass of homemade lemonade, and so the organization proposed the idea for Senate Bill 81, which requested that “occasional business operated by minors are exempt from both licensure and fees.” The bill, sponsored by Utah State Senator Jacob L. Anderegg, passed in March and went into effect as law in May.

Elaine Augustine, a mother of 9 children living in Lehi, Utah, said she was ecstatic when she learned about Rep. Anderegg's proposed bill and took her husband and kids up to the meeting where it was heard for the first time. But even after she and her husband gave public comments, the committee claimed that the burdensome business licensing regulations were a ‘Lehi problem.’

So Augustine studied Utah statutes regulating business and discovered that Utah has a very broad definition of what constitutes a business and gave cities the power to regulate them. Cities, in turn, adopted the broad definition and required all to be licensed with very few exceptions — and this also encompassed children's entrepreneurial efforts.

Augustine said her kids had been very upset that lemonade stands, babysitting, and other children-friendly entrepreneurial activities all were required to be licensed. She said that the city seemed oblivious that, between state statute and local ordinances, there was no provision to exempt children from regulations.

So she took matters into her own hands after having met Boyack at a legislative committee meeting.

“I try and teach my children to be honest and to be law abiding citizens,” Augustine said. “Yet here was a ridiculous law leaving me the option of ignoring it and teaching my kids that it was okay to ignore the law; or, voluntarily complying by either making my children get licensed or not letting them engage in ‘business’ activities. I settled with educating them about the law and engaging them in the process of changing it.”

During her visit to a third legislative session, both Augustine and her children spoke to the committee, expressing their displeasure at the exorbitant fees and ridiculousness of requiring children's businesses to be licensed.

And then Senate Bill 81 finally passed.

"This experience empowered my children with the knowledge that they can make a difference," said Augustine. "They cheered when the law passed and they knew that they no longer need fear that it would be used against them. They learned that their involvement in the process brought freedom to all children throughout the state of Utah."

This legislative victory was recenlty profiled in an article from the Foundation for Economic Education.

Boyack is happy that Utah's new law means young entrepeneuers can be left alone to enjoy operating their businesses.

"Our message of the free market must ring rather hollow in the ears of the rising generation if the heavy hand of the state is felt this early in their life,” said Boyack. "Thankfully now in Utah, any minor operating an occasional business — babysitting, lawn mowing, a lemonade stand — can go about their business without having to get a permission slip first.”