State lawmakers want children to fill labor shortages, even in bars and on school nights

FILE – Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds holds a news conference on COVID-19 in Johnston, Iowa, Tuesday, May 19, 2020. As the federal government scrambles to crack down on surging child labor violations, some state lawmakers want to let children work longer hours and in more hazardous occupations. In addition to allowing 16- and 17-year-olds to work unsupervised in child care centers last year, the Iowa Legislature sent a bill to Republican Gov. Reynolds earlier this month to expand the hours minors can work and allow 16- and 17-year-olds to serve alcohol in restaurants. (Olivia Sun/The Des Moines Register via AP, Pool, File)

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Some state lawmakers are looking to loosen child labor laws, even as the federal government cracks down on surging violations. In at least 10 states, legislators have proposed letting children work longer hours and in more hazardous occupations as a fix for labor shortages. They also say parents have the right to let their kids work, and without too much paperwork. But advocates against child exploitation are concerned by proposals allowing children to work late on school nights and serve alcohol in restaurants. Recent investigations by federal authorities found child workers exposed to dangerous conditions in meatpacking plants and automotive factories, industries that have struggled to find adult workers.

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