INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -
An Indiana legislator has backed off his attempt to repeal the state’s child
labor laws after conflict of interest concerns were raised because his
family employs hundreds of minors at a ski resort.
Chip Perfect’s bill would have eliminated work permit requirements for
minors and removed restrictions on the number of hours that 16- and
17-year-olds can work. The Senate labor committee approved his request
Wednesday to strip those provisions from the bill and seek a special
committee to study the topic later this year.
Perfect, who is
president and CEO of Perfect North Slopes near Lawrenceburg, said the
southeastern Indiana resort employees 300 to 400 minors. Perfect’s move
follows an Indianapolis Star report about a watchdog group saying his
business interests should trigger extra scrutiny and that the ski resort’s
human resources director testified in favor of the bill last week.
Wednesday that the Senate Ethics Committee this week cleared his bill
sponsorship and that he was simply using his business background to address
what he believed is a burdensome system for young workers and employers. He
said he didn’t do anything questionable.
“I really failed to
consider the new normal that you’re now guilty until proven innocent,”
Perfect said. “I apologize to the committee for the distraction that my
involvement in this has caused.”
law requires most people younger than 18 years to obtain a work permit from
their school and generally limits 16- and 17-year-olds to working no more
than 30 hours during a school week or past 10 p.m. the night before a school
day. Supporters of repealing the state law point out federal child labor
laws, such as minimum wage and limiting work hours for those younger than
16, would still apply.
executive director of Indiana’s branch of the American Federation of
Teachers, told the committee that repealing the state law would hurt efforts
to build an educated and skilled workforce.
“It appears that
the goal is to create, perhaps, a cheap and unregulated workforce populated
by teens,” Sloan said.
Senate’s ethics rules say members should consider “whether the legislation
would have a unique, direct, and material effect on the nonlegislative
income of the Senator” before voting on a bill.
“That’s just the
nature of this part-time Legislature,” Republican Senate President Pro Tem
Rodric Bray told the Star. “People have experiences and they come from
committee members defended Perfect’s sponsorship of the proposed repeal.
Perfect said he
hoped a review panel will study what he calls unnecessary labor rules before
the 2020 legislative session.
“They will all
figure out what I’ve known for a long time - this is an impediment to
Indiana moving forward,” he said.