Child Labor in America

LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY — Kentucky’s Republican-dominated House of Representatives passed a bill Thursday to remove state restrictions on child labor, allowing 16- and 17-year-olds to work all night and during school hours.

House Bill 255 repeals Kentucky’s state-specific restrictions on employment for 14- to 18-year-olds and removes the power of the state commissioner for workplace standards — part of the governor’s administration — to issue regulations to protect children in the workplace.

Supporters said it will be easier for employers to comply with federal law that applies nationwide concerning child labor rather than Kentucky’s more restrictive policies, and that removing state restrictions will instill valuable work ethic in teenagers.

Rep. Phil Pratt, R-Georgetown, the owner of a landscaping business, said it’s an “economic imperative” to remove “barriers” to teens working because of national “labor crisis.”

“Work has value, and teenagers who want to work or need to work … shouldn’t have the Kentucky government stand in the way,” Pratt, the lead sponsor of the bill, said on the House floor Thursday.

Democrats decried the policy as opening the door to child exploitation for the convenience of fast-food and other low-wage employers […]

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