Ward 4 Councilmember Brandon Todd
Ward 4 Councilmember Brandon Todd Credit: Darrow Montgomery

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During the D.C. Council’s snippy and often heated legislative meeting this week, where members argued over the fate of Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans,debated (and passed) a controversial $215 million contract, and danced around the ethical questions surrounding them both, Ward 4 Councilmember Brandon Todd sat relatively silent.

But he did introduce three bills.

One of those, the Lemonade Stand Amendment Act of 2019, is purported to allow children to set up a drink slinging station (or any “small scale” business, according to the bill) unencumbered by the requirement to first obtain a business license.

All councilmembers signed onto the bill as co-introducers. Why wouldn’t they? It’s a no-brainer—and that’s because the exemption already exists in D.C. law, as one Twitter user pointed out.

Todd’s bill amends a section of the law that deals with the mayor’s authority to grant permission to peddle your wares in a public place. The bill specifically gives permission to “a minor who is running a small-scale business” to do so without a license for up to 100 days a year and as long as the business isn’t near another “licensed commercial entity.”

But another section of the law already provides that exemption. To wit: “Business activity shall be exempt from the licensing requirement … provided that the business activity has a gross annual revenue of $2,000 or less and does not occur more than 30 days in a calendar year.”

The committee report for the bill from back in 2016 even specifically says “this provision would allow for District children to put up a lemonade stand or do yard work for their neighbors without having to obtain a license.”

In effect, rather than creating an exemption for lemonade stands, as Todd has said his bill does, it simply extends the amount of time a stand can operate by 70 days—and prevents it from setting up within a “reasonable distance” from a grown-up business.

When LL asked Todd about the duplication of efforts, he said he thought the tweeter who first pointed it out was “misinformed.”

A spokesperson for Todd later said the bill, when passed, will provide cohesion between the laws.

Todd took a little heat earlier this year for another piece of legislation that would make the D.C. Circulator bus free—a major priority for Mayor Muriel Bowser—despite the fact that it does not circulate in his ward, as DCist has pointed out. The bill would also nudge D.C.’s Department of Transportation to expand the Circulator’s route to all eight wards.

Todd promoted his lemonade legislation in a tweet earlier this week, and several media outlets ran stories, though none mentioned that the licensure exemption already exists.

Todd’s tweet announcing his bill also drew a good bit of criticism, especially considering the serious issues before the Council, including the removal of Evans as chair of the finance and revenue committee.

“Heavyweight legislation, so proud of this brave council member,” one Twitter user quipped.

Todd voted in favor of removing Evans, but voted against two amendments offered by At-Large Councilmember David Grosso. One of those amendments would have removed Evans as a member of Council committees and failed by a 6-6 vote.

Todd also voted in favor of the $215 million sole source lottery contract.

In his tweet, Todd tagged Country Time with the hashtag #LegalizeLemonade—a call to the company’s campaign to reimburse children the cost of a business permit.

Todd may have meant well with the legislation, even if it will turn out to be a waste of time and energy. Still, with 2020 quickly approaching, LL has to wonder whether the Ward 4 rep is fishing for a boost from Big Lemonade.