Tag Archives: maryland

Lessons in Entrepreneurship: Lemonade Stand Edition

Jennifer Hughes is in charge of issuing permits for Montgomery County, Maryland’s government. She told WUSA, a local tv station, that it is “technically illegal to run even the smallest lemonade stand in the county, but inspectors usually don’t go looking for them.” Some enterprising children recently set up some lemonade stands outside of the US Open, which is played in Montgomery County. They plan to donate the money they make to charity. Officials quickly shut down the stands and fined the childrens’ parents $500.

After a round of bad publicity, the County rescinded the fines. They are also allowing the children to re-open the lemonade stands, so long as they’re on an out-of-the-way road.

It’s good that these children are learning about entrepreneurship and running a business at such a young age. One worries, though, about the lessons Montgomery County is teaching them.

Regulation of the Day 164: Panhandling

If Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett gets his way, panhandlers will need a government permit to ask people for money if they’re near a road. When panhandlers solicit motorists at intersections, they often have to step into the street. Leggett believes this is a safety hazard that requires a legislative fix.

Roadside panhandling is already illegal under Maryland state law, so the county ordinance is technically redundant. But the state ban appears to not be well enforced; hence the local law. Leggett’s permit proposal is likely a backdoor ban. The permits will exist, and panhandlers can apply for them. But none will be issued.

But suppose a permit does get approved. This would violate state law, would it not? Of course, people still panhandle at intersections anyway. So maybe neither the state nor the county ban matters so much.

(via Dan Mitchell)

Regulation of the Day 141: Mandatory Fire Sprinklers

Politicians love it when housing prices go up. They think it’s a sign of a vibrant and growing economy. That high-price fetish is partially to blame for the housing crisis of 2008.

Officials in Cumberland, Maryland have not learned their lesson. They are doing all they can to boost local housing prices. For example, the city council is currently mulling requiring all new homes to install fire sprinkler systems. For a 2,000 square foot home, that would add $3,000 to $9,000 to the price of the home.

Potential homebuyers are questioning the wisdom of the idea; high and rising prices reduce demand for housing. It’s basic economics. If this mandate passes, fewer Cumberlanders will be able to afford a new home. For a city complaining about its aging housing stock, this is not wise policy.

But this isn’t just an economic issue. It’s a personal freedom issue. As one man told the Cumberland Times-News,

Cumberland resident Don Bohrer suggested that more — and louder — smoke detectors, and not sprinklers, are a reasonable solution. Bohrer cautioned against “Big Brother” government infiltrating private homes any more than already is done.

“We’re losing more of our freedoms every time you pass one of these silly things,” Bohrer said.

He’s right. One mandate isn’t that big of a deal, though this one is rather expensive. But when you add them all up – federal regulations alone add up to 157,000 pages – you see that regulators have created a monster.

(Hat tip to Megan McLaughlin)

Regulation of the Day 58: Banning Children from Playgrounds

A new regulation in Kensington, Maryland bans children over five years old from using a local playground between 9:00 am and 4:00 pm.

Officials are upset that children from a nearby private school were using the public playground during recess.

(Hat tip: Drudge)

Regulation of the Day 57: Minimum Price Agreements

A new Maryland law makes it illegal for manufacturers to set a minimum retail price for their products in sales contracts. The law is meant to increase competition. Unfortunately, it will have the opposite effect.

As Wayne Crews and I explain in the The American Spectator, it could prevent retailers from competing with each other on non-price grounds, such as customer service, product demonstrations, and advertising.

Some products, such as televisions or cars, have high information costs. Customers want to know a lot about these products before they commit to a purchase. They want to know what they’re getting. Try before they buy.

By forcing retailers to compete against each other to give customers more and better information and service, minimum price agreements can help consumers get what they want and boost sales at the same time.