A woodworker, a filmmaker, and a designer — all just kids with their own businesses — were among those who testified this week before a Colorado legislative committee in support of the Legalizing Minors’ Businesses bill. Lobbyists for National Federal of Independent Business (NFIB) and Colorado Retailers Council weighed in as full-throated backers of Senate Bill 19-103, which ended up getting a favorable recommendation from the Senate Business, Labor, and Technology Committee.

The kids and lobbyists, along with bipartisan sponsors Sen. Angela Williams, D-Denver, and Sen. Jack Tate, R-Centennial, were all cheering on SB 19-103 to encourage entrepreneurship. “We are very excited about this legislation,” Tate said.

The Colorado bill prohibits any county, municipality, city or town or any local agency from requiring a license or permit for a business operated on an occasional basis by anyone under age 18 years of age. Food safety is just one of the concerns that would take a back seat to youthful business aspirations if the bill becomes law.

The location of a minor’s business would have to be a sufficient distance from other commercial entities as would normally be required if a license or permit was needed. The “occasional basis” means a business that operates no more than 12 weeks or 84 days in any one calendar year. Williams said Texas and Utah use a similar definition for an occasional business.

The Legalizing Minors’ Businesses Act will decrease local government revenues, but the fiscal note from the Legislative Council Staff found the overall impact will be minimal. Williams, who chairs the Business, Labor, and Technology Committee, said the purpose of the bill is to eliminate civil and criminal penalties that might block young people from exploring entrepreneurial possibilities.

The bill says existing law imposes “inordinate and heavy-handed” regulatory burdens on young entrepreneurs, preventing them from learning about business and economic principals while diverting law enforcement resources away from serious crime or civil matters.

It says uniform protection for minors’ business across the state will give young people an even playing field to pursue their ideas.

One young lemonade stand operator said obtaining a health department permit was an educational experience that caused him to review FDA data on foodborne illnesses.

The committee voted 5-0 to recommend the bill to the full Senate.

Also recommended to the full Senate was House Bill 19-1014, dealing with retail restaurant inspections conducted by the state in Clear Creek, Jackson, Moffat, Ouray, Park, and Pitkin counties.

HB 19-1014 more clearly defines “imminent health hazard,” sets the maximum amount for a civil penalty at $1,000, and creates a new civil penalty process for inspection violations.

The Colorado Restuarant Associaton supports the measures. The fiscal note says the financial impact for state and local governments will be minimal. Most counties in Colorado conduct their own restaurant inspections and are not directly impacted by the bill.

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