Poll: 72% of Florida voters oppose bill loosening child labor protections

linda chaney (1)
Less than 1 in 5 support it.

Most politically engaged Floridians aren’t keen on loosening the state’s decades-old child labor restrictions, new polling shows.

A survey commissioned by the nonpartisan Florida Policy Institute (FPI) found 72% of Florida voters oppose a measure (HB 49) now advancing through the Legislature that would allow 16- and 17-year-olds to work later and longer hours.

Just 19% support the change. Nine percent are undecided.

Jacksonville-based Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy spoke by phone with 625 registered voters in the Sunshine State from Dec. 16-20. The poll has a 3.5-percentage-point margin of error.

Pollsters found opposition to rolling back protections for minor workers transcends party lines. Eighty-three percent of Democrats, 61% of Republicans and 73% of third- and no-party voters are against letting minors work past 11 p.m. on school nights and more than 30 hours weekly.

That hasn’t stopped lawmakers so far from approving the bill, which St. Pete Beach Republican Rep. Linda Chaney filed for the 2024 Legislative Session that starts Tuesday.

On Dec. 13, Republican members of the House Regulatory Reform and Economic Development Subcommittee OK’d the proposal over Democrats’ objections.

The Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association signaled support for the bill. The Florida PTA is against it.

So are 75% of women voters in Florida, 69% of men, 74% of White voters, 74% of Hispanic Voters and 64% of Black voters.

Those results aren’t surprising, FPI CEO Sadaf Knight said in a statement.

“Florida voters want the best for kids in this state, and are not willing to sacrifice the well-being of children so employers can fill open positions with cheap labor,” she said. “Our state lawmakers should be focused on improving the health and safety of Florida youth, not removing crucial labor law protections.”

Jennifer Sherer, Director of the Economic Policy Institute’s State Worker Power Initiative, said the poll results reflect how most Americans feel about “alarming increases in employers violating child labor laws.”

“Voters want lawmakers to uphold strong standards ensuring teens can gain important work experience while staying safe, healthy, and completing high school,” she said in a statement.

HB 49 is one of two bills filed for consideration this year that would repeal child labor restrictions. The other is SB 460 by Tallahassee Republican Sen. Corey Simon, which would allow 16- and 17-year-olds to work on construction sites, roofs and scaffolding if they receive an Occupational Safety and Health Administration certification and are supervised while on the clock.

State and federal laws classify roofing work as a hazardous occupation and generally ban it for minors, though Florida has an allowance for youths in vocational training programs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 16 people died from roofing job-related injuries in 2021.

Florida lawmakers aren’t alone in trying to ease work restrictions for minors. Last year, at least 14 states — including Georgia, Minnesota, Missouri and Ohio — saw legislation to enable teens to work more hours, more dangerous jobs or both.

The effort succeeded in Arkansas. In March, Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed a law rolling back requirements that the state verify the ages of workers under 16 and provide them with work certificates permitting them to work.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a law the following month expanding work teens 14-17 can do and how many hours on the job they could spend per week.

One group behind the push in many states is the Florida-based Foundation for Government Accountability, which lobbied for the successful proposals in both Arkansas and Iowa and wrote the draft legislation for Chaney.

A major donor to the organization, shipping industry billionaire Richard Uihlein, is also a major contributor to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ political career. State and federal records show he and his wife, Elizabeth, gave more than $1.9 million to DeSantis’ gubernatorial campaigns and spent more than $2 million on his current bid for President.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


  • Earl Pitts American

    January 5, 2024 at 11:57 am

    The bill should have been marketed as a method to keep the little G’s busy making a career and a family rather than out wilding in the streets, making babies and killing each other.

    • rick whitaker

      January 5, 2024 at 12:04 pm


  • TJC

    January 5, 2024 at 1:01 pm

    Republicans have successfully reduced legal immigration and documented workers, and now we have a shortage of workers to do the jobs most citizens don’t want to do — roof construction, farm labor, road construction, etc.
    Solution? Abandon restrictions for child labor, allowing kids to perform dangerous jobs and/or work longer hours, even on school nights. And put those kids in a situation where their boss says, You work till 1:00 a.m. or you find another job. And you can bet the backers of this bill won’t let their own children work at the expense of their education. No, this is for other kids, not the fortunate sons and daughters.

  • Dont Say FLA

    January 5, 2024 at 1:48 pm

    The shiftless lazy MAGGAs refuse to work. If they somehow get that wall built and stop workers coming to the USA, who will do the work? Nobody knows! Hence the G0P trying to loosen child labor laws all over the USA.

Comments are closed.


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