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Youth entrepreneurs, their parents, and their biggest fans gathered at the Colorado State Capitol on Monday for a Senate committee vote on bill 19-103, Legalizing Minor’s Businesses. Co-sponsored by Senators Angela Williams (D) and Jack Tate (R), the bill would permit youth to operate a business without a permit as long as it runs for fewer than 84 days a year, is operated by someone under the age of 18, and is located away from commercial establishments.
Prior to the vote, the committee members heard powerful testimony. Hannah Reyes, a 12-year-old owner of HER Design Store, argued that this bill would provide kids the chance to try out business ownership. “I call it pee-wee business” she said. “We have pee-wee baseball, a simplified version of the game where kids learn the sport by hitting a ball off a tee, so why not give kids an easier time owning a business, too?” Alexander Woods, a 13-year-old owner of Sweet Confection, pointed out, “Many things are just given to us. Business teaches us to work hard.”
Parents and community members spoke in favor of the bill as well. According to Lauren Schwartz, Director of Investor Relations at the Colorado Chamber of Commerce, and Chris Hawes, President of the Colorado Retail Council, the growth of youth entrepreneurship would have a positive impact on the future of business in Colorado. Parent Jennifer Knowles summed up the argument this way: “This bill is about so much more than lemonade.”
Support also came from three Denver metro area nonprofits who came together to back the legislation and the youth entrepreneurs with whom they work: Dream Tank, Dream Culture Corporation, and Young Americans Center for Financial Education. Anna Leer, Vice President of YouthBiz at Young Americans Center for Financial Education, has worked with young entrepreneurs for the last six years. “Owning your own business as a kid is hard,” she said, “But it’s particularly hard if you don’t have a support system in place. Applying for a permit is something insurmountable if you don’t have adults that can help you through the process, and so many kids just give up.”
The hearing concluded with Senator William’s heartfelt thanks to the youth entrepreneurs who provided inspiration for this bill. “I am proud to have you all at the Capitol today,” she said. “Thank you for making this such a priority.” With a 5-0 vote in favor of the bill, the proposed legislation will make its way through the Colorado Legislature in the next few weeks.