CONCORD — The state Senate overruled its own policy committee Thursday, souring on the idea that cities and towns should be prevented from requiring any licenses for lemonade stands.
The Senate voted, 13-10, to change the bill passed by the House of Representatives (HB 183) to ban a permit requirement for those under 14 who open stands on their parents’ privately owned or leased property. The bill now goes back to the House.
The House version would have banned requiring permits for anyone under 18 and contained no limitation on where their stands could be placed.
Before the full Senate vote, the bill appeared dead Thursday when the Senate Election Laws and Municipal Affairs Committee voted, 4-1, to recommend killing it.
“This bill is about more than simply lemonade. It is about striking a sweet balance between the free market and local control,” said Senate Democratic Leader Donna Soucy of Manchester. “This bill is a solution simply in search of a problem.”
The New Hampshire Municipal Association strongly opposed the measure as a state intrusion into what it said should be policy set by elected leaders in each community.
“If Manchester would like to take a stand on this issue, that is Manchester’s choice,” Soucy said. Later she quipped, “The majority (in committee) felt that this is just not worth the squeeze.”
GOP rally saved the bill
But Committee Chairman and James Gray, R-Rochester, mounted a floor fight to revive the bill, and he got every GOP senator to go along with him.
“We have also heard from our constituents and they want some kind of protection for our children out here trying to raise money for a cherished possession or some cause out there,” Gray said.
All 10 Senate Democrats opposed the bill.
Sen. Sharon Carson, R-Londonderry, was absent for the vote.
Many children get their first taste of the free market when they open a lemonade stand in front of their home, hoping to make a few dollars selling cold drinks on a hot summer day. In many states across the country, these stands technically are in violation of temporary license laws that require all sellers of any age to get a local permit.
New Hampshire is not a home-rule state, so cities and towns typically only have powers the state Legislature has expressly given them.
The state has a “hawkers and peddlers” license law, which governs temporary or seasonal businesses that sell items on a public way in any community.
Many cities and towns have local ordinances that spell out additional requirements beyond the state license.
Other states have had cases of fines or permits against kid-run stands, though New Hampshire does not.
Country Time maintains New Hampshire is one of 34 states where they are illegal without a permit.
Lawmakers in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont and New York in the Northeast have passed laws to ban these permits.
The bill here already showed some staying power.
Last month, a move in the House to politely kill it failed by only 11 votes. The Republican-led House then passed it, as the Senate did Thursday along party lines.