Texas Politics

Did you know it’s against the law for kids to set up lemonade stands? It is — for now

Caleb Leonard, 3, at a lemonade stand for Gaile Robinson things of summer story. June 13, 2005 DIGITAL PHOTO STAR-TELEGRAM/RODGER MALLISON
Caleb Leonard, 3, at a lemonade stand for Gaile Robinson things of summer story. June 13, 2005 DIGITAL PHOTO STAR-TELEGRAM/RODGER MALLISON Star-Telegram archives

Lemonade stands run by children can be found across the state, especially during the hot summer months.

There’s only one problem. They’re illegal in Texas.

Now a state lawmaker — Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth — wants to change that.

Krause has filed House Bill 234 to let Texans younger than 18 legally run stands selling lemonade or any other nonalcoholic beverages.

“I really think this is a common-sense thing,” Krause said. “It’s great for young entrepreneurs.”

Krause said he got the idea for the bill earlier this year from Country Time Lemonade, which put together a team to help pay for permits and fines for any kids across the country who were fined for not having proper permits for their lemonade stands.

The promotion that wrapped up in August was called Legal-Ade.

“We’re here to take a stand for lemonade stands across the country,” the website stated.

“I thought that was a great idea,” Krause said, adding that he even pitched the idea to the bank he works for.

Then he realized he had another option. “I thought, why not create a law to let lemonade stands and nonalcoholic drinks (be sold) by anyone under the age of 18?”

In Texas, lemonade stands are illegal because of aging food establishment rules.

Those rules also used to prevent Texans from legally holding bake sales, until lawmakers passed the Texas Cottage Food Law. That law covered homemade food, but not drinks.

As a result, lemonade stands are still outlawed in Texas.

It wasn’t a big issue until a few years ago, when Tyler police shut down a lemonade stand run by two elementary schoolchildren who were hoping to raise enough money for them and their dad to go to a water park.

When police found out they didn’t have a permit to run the stand, they closed it down.

“I kind of wonder how this bill (to legalize lemonade stands) could not pass,” Krause said. “I will be talking to the Senate and maybe the governor’s office about this as well.”

Lemonade Day — a Houston-based national youth entrepreneurship program geared to teach youth business skills through running and operating a lemonade stand — pledged to work with Krause on the bill.

“This is a great start,” Steve Gordon of Houston, Lemonade Day national president, said in a statement.

“When kids learn how to spend some, save some and share some of their lemonade profits, everyone wins,” he said.

Texas lawmakers head back to Austin Jan. 8 for the 86th Legislative Session.

They’ll have 140 days — until May 27 — to pass or kill bills.

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Anna M. Tinsley grew up in a journalism family and has been a reporter for the Star-Telegram since 2001. She has covered the Texas Legislature and politics for more than two decades and has won multiple awards for political reporting, most recently a third place from APME for deadline writing. She is a Baylor University graduate.