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The Wave

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Florida Senate Rolls Back On Child Labor Laws

Photo credit to Clker-Free-Vector-Images via Pixabay under Pixabay License

Last July, the state of Florida passed Senate Bill (SB) 1718, indicating that immigrants cannot be employed in the state of Florida. 

The new bill states, “If undocumented workers falsify information to obtain employment, they will be subject to a third-degree felony (up to a $5,000 fine or five years in prison).” 

The second section of this bill mentions that if employers hire someone who needs to be documented, they are subject to penalties. These penalties include 1-year probation with the Department of Economic Opportunity. 

As a result of this law, many immigrant workers and employers who lived in the state of Florida left out of fear of being deported, arrested, or fined. This withdrawal left many industries without proper personnel. 

In reaction to the lack of employees, Florida has turned to the employment of high school students to fill in for the reduction of staff.

Recently, the Florida Senate is attempting to pass SB (Senate Bill) 1596, which reads that it will be “removing certain employment restrictions for minors 16 and 17 years of age; revising the age at which certain employment restrictions apply.”

The bill by Zephyrhills Republican Senator Danny Burgess is planning to allow 16 and 17-year-olds to work more than the previous 8 hours a day and over 30-hour weeks. Additionally, older teens will now be legally allowed to work past 11 pm. 

In Homestead, a group called “The Farmworker Association of Florida” traveled to Tallahassee to protest the bill, arguing that children should have more opportunities in education than working hours away.

Further concerns over this bill are growing as parents and teachers worry that it might compromise students’ performances in school and lead them to become easily overwhelmed. Similarly, students express related worries about how much of a workload the bill might add to their lives.

 “The possibility of having to work more hours would put too much stress on my life, and I don’t think I could focus on both school and work,” said Ginger Roloff, a junior at Marco Island Academy.

Michelle Acosta, another student at MIA, also voiced her worries about the bill’s possibility of being passed.

“I don’t mind working and getting money; my only worry is that I might not be able to juggle both school and excessive amounts of work hours.” 

With so many people, both students and parents, opposed to the bill, it makes the possibility of it being passed seemingly impossible. However, this is not the case.

 As of late January, the bill has been passed in commerce and tourism and has been turned over to regulated industries. With results like this, many fear that the bill may be passed in no time. 

With the possibility of Senate Bill 1596 being passed, child labor laws are being rolled back and becoming increasingly lenient, which many feel threatens the mental health and education of minors. Yet as of today, many teens in the state already reap the complications that Senate Bill 1718 has caused, proving the impact that these legislative changes have on Florida’s youth.

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Noa Batlle
Noa Batlle, Contributing Editor
Noa Batlle is a junior and a Contributing Writer for The Wave. In her free time you’ll find her at the beach, listening to music, skipping practice, or crashing her car. After high school she plans to go to college in Florida and major in psychology.
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