This meeting of the Childhood Preservation Society can now come to order.
We ask that you please silence your Simon, and unless they identify as "hungry, hungry," please put any hippo feedings on hold.
Before we get to a status report on how successful our coloring book resurgence has been, I'd like to share some exciting news out of Louisiana that will serve as a model for many of our local efforts going forward.
As many of you are well aware, lemonade stands are a rite of passage for many young people in the U.S.
From the street corners of big cities to the roadsides of rural highways, these citrus oases (It's the plural of oasis. Who knew, right?) provide refreshment for thirsty travelers and early business opportunities for America's youngest entrepreneurs. And sometimes they even sell bottled water or doughnuts.
What's more patriotic than that?
But occasionally adults with nothing better to do enforce local laws and statues requiring a permit for such endeavors.
Or worse, they ticket the children outright, penalizing them (or their parents). At best, they collect a few hundred dollars and sour a perfectly good afternoon. At worst, they squeeze the life out of the tender entrepreneurial spirits of local kids.
How often does this happen? Way more than it should.
These sisters in Texas were trying to earn money for a Father's Day gift. Shut down.
Half a dozen kids in Maryland planned to split their earnings with a pediatric cancer charity. Shut down.
And a girl in New York selling cookies and lemonade with her dad was cornered by parks department agents. Shut down.
It's petty and really, really frustrating.
It's a terrible use of time and resources. So Louisiana legislators did something about it.
Sen. Gary Smith, a Democratic legislator from Norco, Louisiana, introduced a measure to exempt kids from paying an occupation license tax on their small businesses. The bill passed with unanimous support, and Gov. John Bel Edwards plans to sign it. So long as the children of Louisiana take home less than $500 a year, they're free to operate their lemonade stands as they wish without fear of "The Man" knocking their hustle.
The law takes effect Aug. 1, so the Childhood Preservation Society would like to remind its members to keep a low profile should they choose to fly in the face of the existing rules and operate lemonade stands in the bayou all summer long.
Senate Bill 99 (or as it should be called, "The Lemonade Law"), is a big victory for the small people of Louisiana and a reminder that our lawmakers can still work together.
At every level of government, infighting, partisan rancor, and childish posturing are the name of the game. It's why people lose faith in once-revered institutions and why so many long for a change to the status quo.
While a simple, commonsense measure in Louisiana won't change much for most of us, it's something. It's proof that our lawmakers can do the right thing. And a reminder that they can be the leaders we want them to be, if just for a moment.
Or maybe it's proof they like roadside refreshments as much as the rest of us. And frankly, that's OK too.
Whatever the reason, it keeps me hopeful.
The Childhood Preservation Society will now take a brief recess for ... recess.
Please grab a juice box and some graham crackers on your way out.