Guest Viewpoint

It’s finally safe for children in Illinois to sell lemonade without fear of government overreach.

Hayli’s Law was signed into law on July 9 by Gov. J.B. Pritzker after unanimously passing the Illinois House and Senate. Hayli’s law ensures that children under 16 can run a lemonade stand without a permit or license.

In 2017, Hayli Martenez started her Haylibug Lemonade Stand to raise money for her college fund with the help of her mom, Iva. In a violent neighborhood where people are reluctant to go out, Hayli brought together her Kankakee, Ill., neighbors as she happily sold 50-cent cups of lemonade.

“It was kind of scary [at first] because we liked to stay in the house. We didn’t like to come outside because of all the stuff happening around here,” Hayli previously said. “As we kept doing it, I got to see everybody smile when they tasted my lemonade. It was just … wow. They were lining up to get my lemonade.”

Shortly after being profiled in the Kankakee Daily Journal, city and county health department officials paid the 11-year-old a visit and told her to shut down the stand or face fines. They cited the lack of water and sewer service to the Martenez’s home—the result of a billing dispute—even though bottled water for the lemonade was purchased at the grocery store.

Illinois is one of 16 states that do not require permits for lemonade stands, according to Country Time Lemonade. Senate Bill 0112, filed by state Sen. Patrick Joyce (D-40th), ensures local government does not try to stop children from selling non-alcoholic mixed beverages on private property or in public parks.

Hayli’s case follows that of another 11-year-old girl in Madison County who was told she could no longer continue her $200-a-month cupcake business. That inspired the 2014 “Cupcake Law,” which allows home bakeries to operate without professional certification as long as the baker labels items and doesn’t make over $1,000 a month. However, counties must approve the law before it can go into effect. Only eight had enacted it by 2018, and it was recently enacted by River Forest and Bradley.

“Who would have thought you would need a lemonade law?” said Iva Martenez. “But, it wasn’t about the lemonade. It was about being able to take what you have and make it work for you. We turned lemons into lemonade.”

Three years after starting her business, Hayli was excited to receive her new lemonade stand, a gift from the city mayor, and she has also maintained a successful DJ business for the past two years, in addition to earning good grades in school. She hopes to be a gynecologist one day.

Hayli offered some advice for budding entrepreneurs.

“Don’t let anyone crush your dreams or keep you down,” she said. “Keep going. Don’t let anyone tell you what you can or can’t do.”

Illinois has a reputation for making business harder than it needs to be for entrepreneurs, even though small businesses create 69 percent of net jobs in the state. All kids deserve the chance to learn entrepreneurship from an early age.

Hayli’s Law is a good step toward making that happen.

Editor’s note: Ann Miller is staff writer with the Illinois Policy Institute, a libertarian nonprofit think tank.