State Senate OKs ending work permits for 16- and 17-year-olds

May 12, 2017 GMT

The state Senate has sent Gov. Scott Walker a bill removing the requirement for 16- and 17-year-olds to obtain permits signed by their parent or guardian in order to work.

The bill passed the Senate on a 20-12 party-line vote. It passed the state Assembly last week.

Walker’s office did not immediately respond Wednesday to an inquiry about whether he will sign it.

Tourism and business groups support the bill, while labor groups such as the state AFL-CIO oppose it.

Supporters of the bill, including its sponsors, Sen. Chris Kapenga, R-Delafield, and Rep. Amy Loudenbeck, R-Clinton, say it would make it easier for homeless and unaccompanied teens to get jobs. They say Wisconsin is one of just 15 states to have a work-permit requirement for teens age 16 and 17.

Opponents, such as Sen. Lena Taylor, D-Milwaukee, say the bill erodes parental oversight of teens and could expose some teens to work environments that are unhealthy or exploitative.

“We are taking away protections for young people,” Taylor said.

The work-permit requirement would remain in place for minors under age 16.

Other bills that passed the Senate Wednesday would:

Roll back oversight of aquatic farming operations by removing permitting requirements.Allow an unaccompanied person under age 21 to be present during a large event at a music festival venue issued an alcohol beverage license.