Issues for employers, parents to decide - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Issues for employers, parents to decide

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Posted: Friday, May 9, 2008 12:47 am | Updated: 8:47 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Sometimes partisan politics and legislative jockeying can unintentionally result in good policy ideas.

Such is the case with the series of amendments that Sen. Jack Harper, R-Surprise wants to add to a proposed Arizona guest worker program that would lift excessive restrictions on teenagers in the workforce. As Capitol Media Services reported Tuesday, Harper wants to roll back laws that prevent 16-year-olds from being parcel couriers or auto parts delivery drivers and stop 15-year-olds from climbing up ladders more than eight feet tall.

Harper’s goal is to undermine the purpose of establishing a guest worker program — allowing Arizona businesses to recruit more foreign workers to fill their labor needs. Harper probably would be happy if his amendments simply caused Senate Bill 1508 to falter and never reach the governor’s desk.

But we hope that doesn’t happen. Harper points out that these limits on working teenagers go beyond what is required under federal worker safety rules. Somewhere in time, Arizona lawmakers adopted a nanny mentality that they know more about individual teenagers’ maturity and skills than the teens’ parents and employers who supervise them every day.

State regulations, if they are even needed, should focus more on when a child is simply too young to be working at all.

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