Senate panel to take up teen work rules

by | Feb 22, 2024

A Senate committee is set to review a contentious bill that, having passed the House with a vote of 80-35 on February 1, proposes to relax employment restrictions for 16- and 17-year-olds.

A Senate committee Monday is slated to take up a controversial House bill that would loosen work restrictions for 16- and 17-year-olds.

The House voted 80-35 on Feb. 1 to pass the bill (HB 49), which would eliminate a decades-old restriction on 16- and 17-year-olds working more than eight hours when school is scheduled the next day. It also would eliminate a restriction on 16- and 17-year-olds working more than 30 hours during a week when school is in session. A Senate version of the bill (SB 1596) has not moved forward since getting approved Jan. 30 by the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee.

But the Senate Rules Committee is scheduled Monday to take up the House bill, according to a calendar published Thursday. House sponsor Linda Chaney, R-St. Pete Beach, said the bill would give teens a choice to work up to 40 hours a week and that 24 other states have adopted similar measures.

The bill “simply creates opportunity and choice, most likely for those who are already working beyond 30 hours with a side hustle, working under the table through jobs with no benefits or protections,” Chaney said before the bill passed in the House.

But Democrats said the bill would hinder students’ education. They also said, in part, it is intended to use children to address labor shortages, including shortages of immigrant workers.


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