Stewart sponsors State Senate Bill to strengthen Child Labor Laws

Published 11:49 am Monday, April 22, 2024

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State Sen. Robert Stewart, D-Selma, is sponsoring Senate Bill 119 that would strengthen child labor protections if enacted.

SB 119 passed the Senate unanimously last month, passed the House Judiciary Committee last week and is headed to the House of Representatives for a full vote.

“Some of our current state fines for child labor violations are just $300, and these are less than many people pay for basic driving violations,” Stewart said. “This bill is really to address crimes against children, that is what this is about. Just in this last month in Cullman County, we had a 15-year-old fall off a roof and die because he cracked his skull, and so we need to be protecting children in this state. We will not rest until all children in this state are protected in the work place.‘’

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SB 119 has two parts. Part one makes it illegal  to employ someone under 16 in a prohibited occupation, allow anyone under legal drinking age to serve alcoholic beverages or employ a minor in unsanitary conditions. Civil penalties would increase from a flat $300 fine to a fine of at least $300.

Part two would cover violations such as employing minors under 16 to operate dangerous machinery or employing minors in the adult entertainment industry. Civil penalties would increase from $1,000 to $5,000 to between $5,000 and $10,000.

Rep. Prince Chestnut said he supports the bill.

“The child labor bill by Senator Stewart is a good bill and sends a strong message that we will protect children,” Chestnut said. “The Alabama Department of Labor supports the bill, and I support the bill as well. We must ensure as a state that when children go to work, they are working in safe environments. 

The House is expected to vote on the bill soon.