Sarah Huckabee Sanders Paves Way for Child Labor Exploitation
Sarah Huckabee Sanders is off to a furious start as governor of Arkansas. She’d signed over 140 bills into law in less than 50 days on the job, as of the end of February, taking on pressing issues like what constitutes an “adult-oriented performance.” The number keeps increasing, with Sanders this week signing a new law rolling back restrictions on child labor.
The law means the state will no longer have to verify the age of children under 16 before they take a job, which means 14- and 15-year-olds would be able to work without a special permit. The state’s Republican-controlled Senate voted 24-9 last Thursday to send the bill to the governor’s desk. “There is no reason that anyone should have to get the government’s permission to get a job,” said state Sen. Clint Penzo, who sponsored the bill, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
Sanders spokesperson Alexa Henning said the governor believes is the state’s previous child labor regulations were “arbitrary” as well as “burdensome and obsolete.”
The new law comes as the Biden administration promised to crack down on child labor violations days after a New York Times investigation exposed the extent to which migrant children are employed in dangerous jobs across the United States. Child labor violations have quadrupled since 2015, according to data from the Department of Labor.
Arkansas isn’t the only state that wants to make it easier for employers to hire children. Iowa, Ohio, and Minnesota are also considering bills that would loosen restrictions. The bill in Iowa would allow 14-year-olds to work in meatpacking plants. The Department of Labor announced last month that Packers Sanitation Services had paid $1.5 million in fines for illegally employing over 100 children to clean meatpacking plants on overnight shifts.
Sanders will also have children in mind when she signs a sweeping education overhaul package the state’s legislature passed on Tuesday. The law would create a new school voucher program, and also prohibit teaching about gender identity or sexual orientation before the fifth grade — as well as impose an across-the-board ban on teaching what the state calls “critical race theory” and what others call “a full description of U.S. history.”
“I’m ready to sign it into law tomorrow and end the failed status quo that has governed our education system for far too long,” Sanders said in a statement. “Every kid should have access to a quality education and a path to a good paying job and better life right here in Arkansas.”
She’s certainly not lying about wanting kids to have jobs.
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