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April 2, 2014
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 2, 2014 Contact: Julie Rabinowitz, Director of Communications, 207-621-5009
Partisan politics creates missed opportunity to help teens, families and businesses
AUGUSTA—Labor Commissioner Jeanne S. Paquette has issued a statement expressing her disappointment on the Legislature’s failure to pass LD 1698, "An Act To Streamline the Work Permitting Process for Minors and To Conform Allowable Places That Minors May Work to Federal Law." Despite an amendment that gained unanimous support in the Senate last week, the House insisted on its action of Ought Not to Pass, killing the bill on Monday, March 31. A previous vote in the House, 85 to 58, was largely along party lines.
“LD 1698 encouraged 14- and 15-year-olds to develop work skills earlier by removing some of the existing barriers in current law. It streamlined the permitting process—during the summer months—and opened new job opportunities for teens,” Commissioner Paquette said.
“People under the age of 24 have the highest levels of unemployment in Maine,” Paquette noted. “The LePage Administration believes that we can improve our employment opportunities for teens by helping them get jobs and making it easier to obtain their work permits in the busy summer season. The common-sense changes in the bill would have given young people the opportunity to earn money, explore different types of occupations and industries and gain important soft skills.”
Teens traveled to the Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development committee to support LD 1698 at its public hearing. The Departments of Labor and Education, as well as the Maine School Management Association, which represents superintendents, supported it. No one offered opposing testimony, making the majority party’s decision to reject the bill mystifying.
Federal law allows teens to perform non-hazardous work in movie theatres and bowling alleys. Maine is one of only three states that prohibits minors from working in theaters and only six that prohibits them from working in bowling alleys.
“If parents do not want their teen to work, they retain final approval of employment because they must sign the permit application,” said Paquette. “This outcome saddens me. Our young people represent the workforce of the future. Making it easier for them to access their first job can reap positive benefits for future employers and can equip teens with valuable skills that will guide them throughout their careers.”