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Wisconsin Gov. Evers vetoes bill to let teens work without parental consent

Democratic Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers on Monday vetoed a bill that would have allowed minors over 14 to work without state permits or parental consent.

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers on Monday vetoed a Republican bill that would have allowed 14- and 15-year-olds in Wisconsin to work without getting consent from their parents or a state permit.

Evers vetoed the bill that passed the Legislature with all Republicans in support and Democrats against it.

The proposal came amid a wider push by state lawmakers to roll back child labor laws and despite the efforts of federal investigators to crack down on a surge in child labor violations nationally.

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"Asking more kids to work is not a serious plan or solution to address our statewide workforce issues," Evers said in his veto message.

Evers said he vetoed the bill because he objected to eliminating a process that ensures children are protected from employers who may exploit them or subject them to dangerous conditions. Republicans don’t have the votes to override the veto.

Republican supporters said the change would have eliminated red tape for employers and teenage job applicants and bolster the state’s workforce. But opponents, including organized labor, said that without a work permit system, there is no way for the state to help protect the health and safety of children who wish to work.

The proposal would not have changed state law governing how many hours minors can work or prohibiting them from working dangerous jobs.

Evers vetoed the bill at a meeting of the Wisconsin State Council of Machinists in Madison.

Stephanie Bloomingdale, president of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO, praised the veto.

"The important work permit process for 14- and 15-year-olds keeps parents’ rights intact and helps kids stay safe on the job," she said in a statement. "The dangerous push to weaken child labor law in Wisconsin and across the country comes at a time when more children are harmed at work or work hazardous jobs."

In 2017, then-Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill passed by fellow Republicans in the Legislature that eliminated the work permit requirements for 16- and 17-year-olds. The bill Evers vetoed would have expanded the exemption to 14- and 15-year-olds.

Evers also vetoed a bill last year that would have let 14- and 15-year-olds work later hours during the summer.

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