I’m a parent and a legislator, but I know better than to mix the two.
The Maine House recently took up a bill, L.D. 1698, allowing the Department of Labor to issue student work permits when school is not in session and to lift the prohibition on teens working in bowling alleys and movie theaters.
This seemingly uncontroversial bill quickly became a subject of heated debate, with majority Democrats successfully killing the measure and Republicans left wondering why a bill that had no opposition in its public hearing was rejected.
Even the labor unions, which usually oppose any change to work regulations, didn’t oppose the measure. Maine is one of only three states to prohibit minors from working in theaters and only six to prohibit them from working in bowling alleys. Nobody is really sure why those prohibitions were put into law in the first place.
One student told us that many of his friends go halfway through the summer before getting their work permits under current law. The Department of Labor and the Maine School Management Association (which represents superintendents) – the two entities responsible for student work permitting – both supported this change.
The nanny-state opposition to this bill represents a disturbing trend of politicians thinking they know best when it comes to parenting. I don’t know a single parent in Scarborough who has a problem with their teenager working in a bowling alley in the summer, but I was surrounded by 85 politicians in Augusta who do.
I will reach across the aisle and try to persuade my colleagues to support this common-sense bill next year, but I need your help. Please contact your state legislator and let them know what you think.
Republican Rep. Amy Volk
member, Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee