Current limit on teen workers should remain

A bill to allow Maine teens to work more than 20 hours a week during the school year is not in the state's best interest and should not pass.

The legislation would benefit the state's hospitality industry, which is an important part of our economy.

But more important to our future is having a well-educated work force, and this bill stands in direct conflict with that goal.

Under the current law, 16- and 17-year-olds may work a maximum of 20 hours per week when school is in session. On school days, students can work no more than four hours a day and only until 10 p.m.

Sen. Debra Plowman's bill would add 12 hours to the maximum schedule, meaning a youngster could work 32 hours per week, just one shift short of a full-time job.

It also would allow school students to work six-hour days, and up until 11 p.m.

Plowman and Gov. Paul LePage originally wanted to remove all hourly limitations.

They see the 32-hour week as a good compromise, but we do not.

Former Delaware Gov. Jack Markell had an interesting column in Friday's Washington Post.

Markell said he had visited hundreds of businesses during his years as governor and asked them all one question: "What can I do to facilitate (your) success?"

The answer he heard most: Improve education.

Maine can do a lot to improve its tax and regulatory climate to help existing businesses or attract new ones.

But none of that matters if businesses cannot find qualified employees to do the work. This is especially true if Maine hopes to compete for higher-paying jobs in the knowledge economy.

Maine taxpayers pour hundreds of millions of dollars a year into their educational system. We expect and deserve results.

But that money is wasted on a child who is drowsy or has no time for homework.

Working 32 hours a week also makes it unlikely or impossible for a child to participate in after-school enrichment activities like sports, band or theater.

Under this proposal, some students would be spending more time on the job than in the classroom, and that's just not right.

Then there is simple biology. Research shows that teenage bodies need more sleep than adults, on average 9.25 hours per night. That is simply impossible when a teen gets home after 11 p.m.

Teens who are working 32 hours a week and until 11 p.m. on school days will not be at their best during school hours.

We do believe that holding a part-time job is educational. Students learn from their evening and summer jobs important lessons about hard work and customer service.

But a young person's primary job must remain preparing for the future and maximizing their potential.

That is best done by spending more hours in the classroom than in the workplace.

rrhoades@sunjournal.com

The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the ownership and editorial board.

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Comments

Jerome Young's picture

Why is it Augusta's job to

Why is it Augusta's job to set limits on the amount of hours a teen can work? Why does that have to be codified in law? Isn't entering the workforce ALSO education? If a teen is maintaining really good grades AND working 32hrs a week, isn;t that a good thing? I know that all the teens fall in between this work/education continuum differently. But, really, isn't this really a decision families should make? Are we going to hire people to enforce this law? Then are we going to hire administration to manage the people enforcing this law? with ever and onward escalating budgets? I think the days of a nanny state are over, we all need to take responsibility for our lives. Working and maintaining an education is now part of all our lives, why would you want to hamstring the teens and their parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents?

Steve  Dosh's picture

Current limit on teen workers should remain

It's true . Good editorial , Rex .
Children are (y)our future . Why put them to work so quickly ? We're not that broke yet guys . Child labor laws ? Yeah ? They have worked very well here t y v m . We are not a second , third , or fourth world nation ( to use Walt Rostow's 1 9 6 0 definition )
And who really wants to go back to 1 9 1 2 and have the kids stringing bobbins down at the mill for peanuts ? A: Nobody
We , as a society , can easily afford to let our children be educated before they are cast out into an increasingly technologically sophisticated world . Their job is , in fact , to become educated . Ignorance is not bliss . It's just dumb
Our children today will probably live until they are 1 0 0 as true marvels of our modern medical science . U . S . science needs more brainiacs , not fewer . As a country of immigrants we can proudly say , " Give us your tired , your poor , " your doctors , scientists , and the like . Home grown works too . Let's do encourage that approach . Maybe they'll even stick around they'ya in ME
Aloha from Pahoa /s, Dr. Dosh and ohana :)

DAVE GUDAS's picture

Tough One To Call

The onslaught of technology, i.e. hundreds of Cable Channels, DVD's, Internet, Cell Phones has many in the age bracket up until all hours already. Maybe it's wise to let them be able to put that idle squandered time to better use. A work ethic is not a terrible thing to foster.

Bob Woodbury's picture

So because...

...parents are lax in disciplining their children and allowing them to stay up, it's OK to send them to work and ignore their education? That would certainly give them more money for more technology and maybe even illegal substances.

Terry Donald's picture

The changing of rules

The changing of rules government child labor in Maine is nothing but a poorly veiled attempt by those in power to put more profit into the pockets of corporations, most of which are out of state concerns. It's a simple concept, most jobs that teens hold are temporary, unskilled, and part time. Most importantly they are much more likely to be minimum wage jobs. By allowing teens to work more hours, later hours and more days, large business can shift hours from adults who generally demand higher pay. Out of state corporations save cash, adults who need to pay the rent, put food on the table, keep their cars gassed up, make less money. Another right wing plan proposed by LePage and his minions, but bought and paid for by big money like Koch Industries.

Bob Stone's picture

What a load of crap

Donald is lost in the Obama ozone. Most Maine businesses are small businesses, owned, operated and staffed by Maine residents. The evil corporations happened to be owned, in part, by evil Maine stockholders. Maybe Donald would be shocked to know that many of his leftist friends are participating in pension-retirement plans who happen to own these evil corporations he rails about this morning.

I would venture to guess that most of the evil corporations employ many Maine adults and relatively few teens. Busy denigrating the "ownership class", Donald can't see the forest for the trees.

The Koch brothers, the new enemy of the left, give peanuts in relation to George Soros, the currency manipulator who funds most of the liberal causes on the American scene. You'll never hear Terry trashing good ol' George. What is good for the goose, in Donald's world, is evidently not good for the gander in his fairy tale existence.

Terry Donald's picture

wow Mr Stone, you seem to

wow Mr Stone, you seem to have some anger issues. I certainly respect your right to express an opinion, but doing it by trashing me is an interesting way to discuss things. I'd suggest that when looking at actions of our new state government, follow the money.
And if I could offer some personal advice Mr Stone, if you spend your whole life surrounding yourself with only those who look like you, talk like you, and have the same opinion and life style as you, you will die a very very lonely soul.

Bob Stone's picture

Far from it

I suggest that when you look at the actions of previous state administrations, you should also follow the money. Facts are inconvenient truth to liberals, who seem to love to play the "class card." It get's old.

So far, Governor LePage has been roundly trashed for addressing issues head on, such as the unfunded liability crisis and the state's crushing debt load. You are one of the premier trashmasters, and I will call you on it. I know you don't like defending "feelings", but we live in a world of facts AND feelings.

Governor LePage is not a "front" man for anyone. I know the man, and I can assure you he isn't doing this for his financial health. For you to imply otherwise is cheap talk...coming from a person who has no idea where the Governor is coming from or how he is motivated. So, if you feel trashed, how about backing up your assertions with facts?

Terry Donald's picture

Could you ask your friend Mr

Could you ask your friend Mr LePage where his BPA proposal came from?

Bob Stone's picture

Ah, the BPA Proposal...Here are the facts

The liberals have their panties in a bunch over LePage's supposedly banning BPA in children's sippy cups, for example. The truth is that the industry has already stopped using BPA in such items. The law that LePage seeks to correct is a law passed by the Democrats gives the DEP the right to ban ANY consumer product used in Maine.

The law allows the DEP to ban all kinds of consumer products, including but not limited to: cell phones, computers, alcoholic beverages (yes, that’s right: wine, beer and liquor), refrigerators, roofing materials, insulation, gasoline, car seats, helmets, cleaning products used in hospitals to disinfect surfaces from deadly viruses, nicotine, soap, toothpaste, bullet-proof vests, fishing poles, protective eyewear, solar panels, bicycles, radios, fuel cells, fire hoses, carpets, mattresses, building materials, heart valves, prosthetic devices, plastic containers. The list goes on, effecting thousands of products that have nothing to do with children or children’s toys. This all according to Dana Connors in a recent column available locally.

That's the true story about the LePage proposal. The libs picked one product from a list of 1,750 chemicals and ran with it. That one product was already discontinued in the manufacturing process.

Terry Donald's picture

And ask your friend Paul why,

And ask your friend Paul why, when he wants to require state employees to take some of the pain and increase their contributions to pension plans, why does he not require himself to so the same thing. Or perhaps just take a big portion of the pain and step away from his promised state pension as soon as he is voted out of office. Is the pension plan sound enough to pay Mr LePage off, but not the rest of the state employees?
Shouldn't we all by taking on some of the pain Mr Stone?

Bob Stone's picture

Good Questions

1. I am not certain of this, but I believe Maine's governors are not part of the state employee pension system. I think they have a pension that is set by Maine statute. So, if LePage, Baldacci, King, and other surviving governors or spouses would care to "share the pain", then they could write a check for 2%. I doubt any one of them would do so, but you might write to them and suggest same.

2. I just did some figuring. I noticed that Governor LePage is proposing that the 10 furlough days be eliminated. If the state worker is paid for about 250 work days, the elimination of furlough days will add 4% more to their gross pay than they enjoyed under the Baldacci administration. Baldacci is a Democrat and LePage is a Republican, I pause to note. So, this would leave the state employee with 2% more than under Baldacci. As we know, it has been proven, beyond a doubt, that 4 minus 2 equals 2. Funny how we never hear about the 2% net increase.

3. I am also a fan of voluntary contributions to the Maine Treasury. Folks that want to see more taxes, or more programs, or preserved programs, should be encouraged to write a substantial check to support these programs. I'll bet not many of the 61 percent that voted for Mitchell or Cutler sent an extra $5,000 in to the Treasurer on last year's tax return. I'll be not many sent an extra buck in. That would be people, who want the pain, actually sharing the pain. I want less pain.

Have any other ideas?

Terry Donald's picture

While this has all been fun,

While this has all been fun, I have enjoyed reading your responses and respect your right to your opinion, you have not swayed me. I, along with more and more mainers every day, feel that we've been left with a Governor who is boorish, autocratic, and a liar. vastly out of touch with reality. All spin aside there is example after example of how he is flat out unfit to govern this state. His ideas and policies do no even begin to accomplish what he promised to do during his campaign. Not one proposal has been aimed at improving the lives of mainers, saving the average family money, or increasing the opportunity for job creation here. Thanks though for your opinion.

Bob Stone's picture

I Never Expected to Change Your Mind, Terry

Paul LePage has been Governor for a very short period of time. I note a poll today in this media outlet that has him at 43%. Not that I think that polls are accurate consistently. But that has him gaining 5 points in a short period of time.

I think he'll end up being a fine Governor. The Communications Department definitely needs work and I hope that he can improve his administration's performance in that area. I think he is tackling, head on, a number of critical problems. The UAL, the state's crushing debt, the debacle that is DHHS, environmental regulations that have swung too far out of balance for a few. As the Governor has stated, he'll let his record be the judge of his performance after 4 years.

The sad fact is that, if not addressed, the pension of 90,000 Mainers would grow and grow to consume mammoth chunks of the Maine budget, and would squeeze out many programs that would benefit the other 1,200,000 Mainers. I know this is difficult to accept because those 90,000 have been living for years in a world where the reality of the UAL has been kicked down the road. Those 90,000 ought to be directing their ire at Governors King and Baldacci, who did nothing while the problem grew out of control.

The Governor is not the silver tongued politician that King and Baldacci were...not by a long shot. But a sound manager and business man he is, and we need all the management we can muster at this time. Things are going downhill fast.

RONALD RIML's picture

Facts??

Yet no citings nor links??

Now thats the blind seeing and the lame walking for ya.........

RONALD RIML's picture

Not a 'Front Man?" Sure, I was born yesterday.....

Bob says we should "Follow the Money"

I called up the Maine Heritage Policy Center in an attempt to follow their $$$ - and they refused to divulge any of their sources.

I talked to Heather Noyes, Director of Development for the MHPC. She told me that their donors preferred to remain anonymous - and that there was no legal requirement for the organization to divulge any of the sources of their donations.

So it appears facts are also very inconvenient to these people as well.

But the fact is that Governor LePage is certainly in bed with them

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"Meet the Transition Team (Governot Paul Lepage) Co-chairs - Tarren Bragdon Chief Executive Officer, The Maine Heritage Policy Center --> http://www.lepagetransition.com/2010/11/meet-the-transition-team-co-chairs/

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AUGUSTA, Maine — A state employees union is questioning why a co-chairman of Gov. Paul LePage’s transition team sent e-mail solicitations to some state workers seeking contributions for the conservative think tank he heads.

Chris Quint of the Maine State Employees Association said 10 employees have complained about a fundraising e-mail from Maine Heritage Policy Center CEO Tarren Bragdon. Quint told the Portland Press Herald that workers are asking how Bragdon got their e-mail addresses and whether the solicitation violates a law prohibiting state officers and employees from seeking political contributions from state workers.

See --> http://new.bangordailynews.com/2011/02/25/politics/state-workers-union-q...

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Next Tuesday, a yet-to-be-determined number of Maine legislators will sit down to a private dinner at The Senator Inn in Augusta to talk welfare reform with two very influential players in Maine politics.

One is Mary Mayhew, the new commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services.

The other is the evening's host: Tarren Bragdon, chief executive officer of the Maine Heritage Policy Center.

The same Tarren Bragdon who recently served as co-chair of Gov. Paul LePage's transition team.

The same Tarren Bragdon who played a major role in writing LePage's proposed budget for the next two years.

See --> http://www.kjonline.com/news/a-peek-behind-bragdons-curtain_2011-03-02.h...

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LePage and GOP candidates repeatedly blasted Dirigo on the campaign trail. The governor-elect has vowed to repeal it and to fight the national health care bill.

The governor-elect's health care strategy has drawn increased attention since Tarren Bragdon, CEO of the conservative think tank Maine Heritage Policy Center and a co-chairman on LePage's transition team, told the New York Times that "Dirigo will be Diri-gone."

The Maine People's Alliance, an organization that advocates for universal, or single-payer, health care, said in a press release that Bragdon's comments were dismissive of the 14,000 Mainers currently insured by Dirigo.

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LePage is obviously a 'Front Man' for a number of people who do not wish to be identified.

Bob Stone's picture

LePage is His Own Man

You could expand the definition of "front man" to include any one of his supporters. Using your definition, LePage is a front man for me, personally, because I think that Maine was, and is , in serious need of help. Of course the thinking of the MHPC is much closer to LePage than, say, George Soros, MoveOn.org and/or the Maine Center for Economic Progress. I would imagine that many of the supporters of MHPC also supported Paul LePage's campaign. There is no news there.

Your cut and paste is just more of the same liberal tripe that we read on almost a daily basis. Libby Mitchell and Eliot Cutler were front people for a whole group of liberal causes, from unions to what knows, using your definition.

I am of the belief that Paul LePage has his own ideas as to what he'd like to do in the next four years. A poster insinuating that he'll profit from those actions are way off base.

RONALD RIML's picture

No News?

Only because you don't wish it to be......

On one hand you say to "Follow the Money" - The when one attempts to, and hits a brick road, you imply "There's nothing to see here Folks - it's nothing by tripe."

Sure, Paul has his own ideas.... Like he was the first one to go to Canada after running out of student deferments during Vietnam.....

RONALD RIML's picture

Here's a link for that last article quoted

AL PELLETIER's picture

one point overlooked

At 16 and 17 years of age some youngsters may favor money over knowledge and the job may take precedence leading to more drop outs.

RONALD RIML's picture

So the State should enable them Why????

Got an answer for that, Al??

AL PELLETIER's picture

good research

Ron, your info. on the Bragdon gig was enlightening. The point I was trying to make on my post is that allowing youngsters to work 32 hours a week while in school may promote their want for the almighty buck over the want for an education. Also, the post about all the gadgets available that occupy a youngsters time makes a good point. Perhaps what is good for the student should be left up to the parents instead of the state, but then there are so many parents today disconnected from what is right for their kids, that wouldn't work either. Go figure.

RONALD RIML's picture

Have a work week limitation unless....

the 17 year old is a HS grad.

Until he/she IS a grad - Education is their Job. Once they hit 18 - parents can kick them out of the house - though I've known some, ahem, who've done so earlier when they wouldn't get with the program... ;)

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