November 17, 2019
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Senate rejects governor’s proposal to streamline work permit process

AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine Senate on Monday rejected a late-session bill from the governor’s office that sought to simplify the process for teenagers to obtain work permits.

The Senate voted to replace LD 1890 with a resolve that asks the Maine Department of Labor to gather information about how best to streamline the process and report back to the next Legislature.

The Labor Committee then would be asked to draft legislation based on those recommendations.

Sen. Chris Rector, R-Thomaston, who co-chairs that committee, said Monday there wasn’t enough time to debate LD 1890 this session, in part because it came in so late.

The majority report from the Labor Committee was to reject the bill. The minority report, which the Senate passed, doesn’t kill the bill, but instead delays any action until the next Legislature.

LD 1890 now goes to the House for consideration.

The governor’s original bill would have created a general work permit that would be issued to a minor by school superintendents and allow employment during the summer and during the school year.

His proposal also would have created a master list of employers that provide safe and age-appropriate jobs for minors and would have outlined a set of safe working conditions and create consequences for employers that don’t meet those conditions.

LePage’s spokeswoman, Adrienne Bennett, said the administration hopes to resubmit a similar bill next session that heeds any concerns that include suggestions from any stakeholders, such as superintendents.

Young workers were the subject of a few bills last session.

One bill that would have allowed teenagers to work more hours during the school year was seen by some as a rollback of Maine’s child labor laws.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Debra Plowman, R-Hampden, said the bill was meant to bring Maine in line with other states. The measure had the support of many industry groups.

The bill was amended to bump up the amount of hours allowed during the school year rather than repeal the limit outright and that amended bill passed through the House and Senate, although with partisan votes.

Another bill, sponsored by Rep. David Burns, R-Whiting, sought to create a training wage for young workers that was below the state’s minimum wage.

That bill failed.

Follow BDN report Eric Russell on Twitter @BDNPolitics.

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