The Republican House on Friday dropped its proposal to repeal limits on work hours for 16- and 17-year-olds, compromising with Democrats to ease the current limits on hours and quitting times.
The House withheld final action until Monday on HB1030 after adopting several amendments.
“I think we made a bad bill better,” said House Minority Leader Brian Ebersole, D-Tacoma, after the two-hour debate over the first bill to hit the House floor.
Republicans consider the 18-month-old state rules that limit teen work hours to be an example of regulatory excess.
The measure’s sponsor, Rep. Barbara Lisk, R-Zillah, said the main intent is to take rule-making away from the state Department of Labor and Industries “and give it back to parents. We did that.”
The department now permits 16- and 17-year-olds to work a maximum of four hours per day during a school week, with a quitting time of 10 p.m. on nights before school. Employers can get a variance from L&I; to permit a youngster to work six hours a day during the school week.
As amended, the measure would abolish the 10 p.m. quitting time, permitting 16- and 17-year-olds to work as late as they wished. The bill also would set no limit on the number of hours per day the teens could work.
But it would set a limit of no more than 24 hours a week of work during the school year, and would permit teens to work no more than six days in a week.
The House also agreed to bar youngsters from working in hazardous occupations, but would define those occupations based on federal standards, rather than the tougher state standards now in place.
The bill maintains the initial GOP goal of eliminating considerable paperwork required of employers who employ teenagers.
At recent hearings, employer after employer blasted the current rules as going far beyond what is needed to protect 16- and 17-year-olds in the workplace.
Employers who traditionally hire older teens - restaurant and theater owners for example - said the regulations and penalties for noncompliance are so onerous that they no longer hire people under 18.
The measure’s prospects in the Democratic Senate are considered good, especially with the amendments passed Friday.