Missouri SB222

Courtesy of Missouri State Senator, Jane Cunningham (R), we may officially have proof positive that U.S. legislators have lost their everloving minds.

SB 222 – This act modifies the child labor laws. It eliminates the prohibition on employment of children under age fourteen. Restrictions on the number of hours and restrictions on when a child may work during the day are also removed. It also repeals the requirement that a child ages fourteen or fifteen obtain a work certificate or work permit in order to be employed. Children under sixteen will also be allowed to work in any capacity in a motel, resort or hotel where sleeping accommodations are furnished. It also removes the authority of the director of the Division of Labor Standards to inspect employers who employ children and to require them to keep certain records for children they employ. It also repeals the presumption that the presence of a child in a workplace is evidence of employment.

Now, there’s a reason we don’t hear a lot of campaign promises to bring back child labor.  Namely, because it’s a BAD thing.  And for some reason, I guess I assumed that was one of those few types of laws we could pretty much all agree on.

But no – in a move that would take us clear back to the 1800’s, Sen. Cunningham is proposing that limits on child labor at any age be removed entirely AND that the safety mechanism in place to inspect workplaces that hire children be eliminated.

Where is Charles Dickens when you need him?

In defense of the bill Cunningham states, “In no way are we trying to get rid of the child labor laws. There is every intention to protect children and make sure they get what they need.”  But that’s precisely what she is doing.

And although children would be required to attend school as usual, there are no limits on non-school hours, holidays, weekends, and summers at all. I’d like to think employers wouldn’t take advantage of children, but since I have heard enough horror  stories about adults being exploited, common sense dictates that we can’t not fear the worst.  Especially where defenseless children are directly affected.

But this is free enterprise, is it not?  Allowing businesses to thrive will boost the economy and make America stronger.  And free enterprise is to be respected at all costs, according to many conservatives.  Further, government regulation is to be distrusted and repealed wherever possible so as to avoid repressing corporate progress.  They don’t want government in their own business* and corporations shouldn’t have to put up with it either.

It makes you wonder what other workplace values from the  1800’s might be resurrected next.

Perhaps we should revoke the minimum wage and overtime requirements too, to benefit corporate interests?  This would lead to sky-high profits and definitely cheer up our corporate friends.  Of course workers would see their already questionable paychecks (and thus grocery, rent/mortgage, and healthcare budgets) shrivel to the point of inability to cover even basic human needs.  But who cares about homelessness and food insecurity when you are working for the greater good?

Similarly, why not repeal workplace safety restrictions too, and eliminate the expense of operating OSHA?  Fiscally conservative and absolutely in favor of free enterprise.  What’s not to like?  Probably because people would die.  Not important people like white multimillionaire CEOs, but people nonetheless, and I’d like to think even Republicans are uncomfortable with that.  But, hey, I’ve been proven wrong before.

I don’t think Cunningham’s measure is going to pass.  I think most people, regardless of politics, realize this is a bad idea.  And I think that “My opponent, X, voted in favor of CHILD LABOR” is probably a fantastic campaign slogan to have when running for legislature in Missouri.  People of Missouri, please don’t prove me wrong.

*Unless, of course they are the financial beneficiaries of the regulation or the regulation only applies to people they don’t really like.


  1. February 21, 2011 at 10:48 am

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Bonnie Petrie, Bonnie Petrie. Bonnie Petrie said: The Runway Lawyer says there's proof "U.S. legislators have lost their everloving minds" re: child labor laws http://tinyurl.com/4vmk8tz […]

  2. February 21, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    If anyone in MO has some insight on this lawmaker, please feel free to share.

  3. April 30, 2011 at 11:51 pm

    […] ETA – The Runaway Lawyer has reminded me Missouri isn’t always this kid-friendly. […]

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