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February 12, Denver– Youth entrepreneurs, parents, and community leaders 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 allow 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. The bill passed with a vote of 5-0.
The committee members heard powerful testimony from both youth and adults prior to their vote. Alexander Woods, 13-year-old owner of Sweet Confection, pointed out, “Many things are just given to us. Business teaches us to work hard.” 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, has worked with young entrepreneurs for the last six years. “Owning your own business as a kid is hard,” she said, “and it’s particularly hard if you don’t have a support system in place. Applying for a permit can be insurmountable if you don’t have adults who 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 the final vote in favor of the bill, the proposed legislation will work through the Colorado Legislature in the next few weeks.