Maine Senator Debra Plowman (R) is worried that families need their kids to work to supplement finances. We reported on the original proposal earlier this month. As of March 31, the bill that would loosen child labor laws in the state is in the Maine Senate. The Bangor Daily News reports:
Sen. Debra Plowman, R-Hampden, the bill’s sponsor, said the proposal is designed to give kids an opportunity to save more money for college or contribute to their family’s finances.
Plowman also believes the bill would curb minors from working multiple jobs to skirt the state’s current law, which prevents 16- and 17-year olds from working more than 20 hours in one week for a single employer.
Current law also prohibits high-school age workers from working past 10 p.m. on a school night.
Plowman originally proposed allowing kids to work up to 32 hours a week and as late as 11 p.m. on a school night. Gov. Paul LePage backed the bill.
The Maine Women’s Lobby, however, says increasing work limits runs the risk of increasing high school dropout rates. The group is also concerned that allowing children to work until 11 p.m. could also impact student achievement.
The bill does not come without controversy. Would student achievement be impacted if child labor laws are loosened? Currently, Maine is doing better than the national average according to the Portland Press Herald.
The National Assessment of Educational Progress is the premier benchmark and tests randomly in every state.
It shows Maine 4th graders rank 9th in math and 19th in reading. In 8th grade, students rank 20th in math and 14th in reading.
In both grades, Maine students are doing better — often much better — than the national average.
Finally, Maine is graduating 79.1 percent of our K-12 students, compared to 74.9 percent nationally (in the 2007-2008 school year).
Commentors (potential voters) on the site's article were anything but pleased. Says "stillrelaxin:"
You know I think I saw a panel on the mural LePage snuck down that showed some sad little faces toiling away to make pennies from their labor bosses.
I truly believe that Mr. LePage and his "business" associates/contributors would just love to see those faces walking back into their workplaces.
I know, they're just talking increasing a few hours for teens now, but it's a slippery slope and we all know they'd go there if they thought they could get away with it…the mural taught those who had forgotten or had never learned what the limits are to man’s greed.
Some would contend that this is the same reason poor women should not be allowed 'Freedom of Choice', so as to continue producing, potentially, cheaper/under-educated labor and soldiers!
Be careful what you wish for, Conservatives! Nothing, including society, 'evolves' backward.
Like stuffing a butterfly back into it's cocoon, the outcome will be predictably tragic.
JasonWeb agreed and asked some great questions:
These Republicans are pretending they have these children workers' best interests at heart. But the main effect of this bill is to further cheapen the labor market to benefit owners, not workers.
How many children testified in favor of this bill? None, I'll bet.
How many business owner's testified in favor? Many, I'm sure.
Democrats support workers.
Republicans support owners.
Pick the side you want, but don't pretend.
Remember the short-lived Republican bill that would have made tips the property of the restaurant owner? That was a lovely idea to0 wasn't it? Good for the waitresses how again?
No doubt we'll soon see a Republican sponsored bill to reduce the minimum wage. I expect they'll pretend that's for the workers' own good too.
Out of 260 comments, only one or two seemed to support the measure weakly, but only to teach kids responsibility. Logger_Lady stated:
It is not necessarily "being servants to big business." It is about instilling some responsibility and pride among our up-and coming young adults. Teenagers want cellphones, cars, gas and expensive clothes. Some parents cannot afford to pay for all the amenities. So, in some cases, if a young adult wants something, they must learn to work and pay for it, not have it all handed to them. No, I don't believe they should be working 50 hours per week and yes, grades are equally important. Not arguing with you, it is just the way some parents choose to raise their children.
We'll keep following this story and apprise you of what happens in the Maine Senate.