DES MOINES, Iowa (WHO) — The Iowa Legislature went into session very early Tuesday morning, taking up debate on the bill on youth employment.
The session opened at 3:36 a.m. and the vote on SF 542 in the Iowa Senate happened at 4:52 a.m. It passed by a vote of 32 to 17. All Democrats voted against it as well as two Republicans.
The bill allows 14-year-olds to work six-hour night shifts, allows 15-year-olds to work in plants on assembly lines moving items up to 50 pounds, and allows 16 and 17-year-olds to serve alcohol.
Many Democrats say this can be dangerous for kids by putting them in risky jobs. Republicans argue that’s not true and it’s just giving them more opportunities to earn money.
“I wouldn’t want my granddaughter serving alcohol or getting an exception to do hazardous work in the name of workplace learning. A workplace accident can happen in the blink of an eye. It takes mere seconds for a red iron beam to fall. Iowans should not be putting our kids, and they are kids, in dangerous situations,” said Sen. Janice Weiner (D) of Johnston.
“With this bill, we are strengthening and providing protections to our youth. We are not forcing them into slave labor. We are not selling our children. We are not even requiring them to work,” said Sen. Adrian Dickey (R) of Jefferson.
The bill now moves on to the House.