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Bill Would Let Teens Ages 16 And 17 Work Without Permits

Current Law Requires All Minors Under Age 18 To Get Parent's OK

"We're hiring" sign
Paul Sakuma/AP Photo

Sixteen- and 17-year-olds would be allowed to get jobs without work permits under a bill that cleared the state Legislature’s budget committee Monday.

Work permits include the written consent of a minor’s parents. They’re currently required, with some exceptions, for everyone under age 18.

Clinton Republican Rep. Amy Loudenbeck said she wants to change that so 16- and 17-year-olds can get jobs even if they’re homeless or their parents aren’t involved in their lives.

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“This allows them a way to legally do that without chasing around their parents who may be absent for whatever reason,” Loudenbeck said.

The proposal passed along party lines with all Republicans voting in favor and all Democrats voting against.

Middleton Democratic Sen. Jon Erpenbach said both of his children started working early, but under current law, he said they were protected by checks and balances.

“It’s really important that kids start working as soon as they possibly can,” Erpenbach said, “But that they also get permits to do so. That I know as a parent that they’re in a safe place, that I know that there’s somebody watching out for them other than the person who hired them.”

Because the work permits also require a fee, the plan is projected to reduce funding for the state Department of Workforce Development. DWD uses that money to fund positions that enforce laws governing the employment of minors.