Senate child labor bill gets rewrite to limit teen workers on construction sites
Corey Simon takes the school choice banner, and runs with it.

'Scaffolding is still off the table. Roofing is still off the table.'

While a bill to allow 16- and 17-year-olds to work longer hours is advancing steadily through the House, a narrower measure allowing teens to work on some construction sites in limited circumstances has started to move in the Senate.

The bill (SB 460) originally would have allowed 16- and 17-year-olds to work on roofs in residential and commercial construction sites. But the bill sponsor, Tallahassee Republican Sen. Corey Simon, rewrote the measure to bar them from commercial sites and jobs with scaffolding, roofs and ladders over 6 feet. The bill passed through the Senate Education PreK-12 Committee on a 9-2 vote.

“Scaffolding is still off the table. Roofing is still off the table,” Simon emphasized.

Although the House measure (HB 49), which allows teens to work until 11 p.m. and for longer hours with fewer breaks, has received vehement pushback from Democrats and youth and labor activists, Simon’s bill is focused more on expanding opportunities for career and technical education. It sets up a task force to study ways to expand such education and allows technical instruction to count toward course credit in high school.

Sens. Shevrin Jones, a Miami Gardens Democrat, and Rosalind Osgood, a Fort Lauderdale Democrat, expressed support for the move to expand career and technical education. But they voted against the bill over a provision repealing a requirement that electrician professionals known as “journeymen” complete training and pass a test to receive licenses issued by counties and cities.

“This is not the child labor bill,” Osgood said. “Our kids are a lot smarter than we think they are. … No, we don’t want them working instead of going to school. But for many poor kids, that’s the reality.”

The Senate version (SB 1596) of the more expansive HB 49, hasn’t received a hearing. But its sponsor, Sen. Danny Burgess, a Zephyrhills Republican, bemoaned the “rhetoric” surrounding his measure while applauding the merits of Simon’s bill.

“Some of the rhetoric around that has been completely atrocious and not factual and off-base,” Burgess said.

Similarly, Simon said “political conversations” shouldn’t get in the way of offering more opportunities to teens for on-the-job training ahead of entering the workforce.

“Not every kid is going to go on to our traditional postsecondary institutions and we do a disservice to them if we don’t offer pathways for them to have the success that they deserve and that they’re willing to work for,” Simon said.

Gray Rohrer


  • Richard R. Bruce

    January 17, 2024 at 11:48 am

    16 and 17 yrs are not children. No one is working in a coal mine in Florida. I enlisted in the military at 17 working far more than 40hr/wk. By the time I was 16 I already work many paying jobs, including more dangerous jobs than mentioned in this bill. I like the comment about only poor kids need to work. All 16/17 yrs need to work in the trades.

    • Bwj

      January 17, 2024 at 1:05 pm

      How old are you now? It’s difficult to compare thirty forty years ago to now. I don’t disagree that a sixteen or seventeen should work. I grew up on a small farm. But the danger is that we’re going to sacrifice education for cheap labor.

      • TJC

        January 17, 2024 at 5:01 pm

        That’s not only the danger, that’s the plan. It won’t be legislators’ kids working the late hours, it will be other people’s kids.

      • TJC

        January 17, 2024 at 5:01 pm

        That’s not only the danger, that’s the plan. It won’t be legislators’ kids working the late hours, it will be other people’s kids.

    • Another Cranky Old Man Like Richard R. Bruce

      January 17, 2024 at 4:59 pm

      “16 and 17 yrs are not children.”
      In America, 16 and 17 year old human beings are indeed children, and that’s the law.
      And nobody gives a damn about your childhood.

  • TJC

    January 17, 2024 at 4:50 pm

    The GOP legislators in cahoots with the Governor have made it more difficult for non-citizens to work in Florida (documented or not) and now they’re scrambling to find cheap labor. You can bet it won’t be their kids who are working to eleven on a school night — their kids aren’t working at all, they are getting tutors to push them through high school and on to college.

  • J. Paycheck

    January 17, 2024 at 5:07 pm

    Not all kids work because they (or their family) need the money. Some enjoy working, some enjoy extra cash to spend. But when a boss says, “You’ll work to 11 on a school night because the law allows it, or you can find another job,” hopefully those kids will tell him/her to take the job and shove it, and find themselves another job.

Comments are closed.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704