In Arkansas, Gov. Sarah Sanders has signed the Youth Hiring Act of 2023, removing the requirement that a parent or guardian consent to a child starting a job or getting an employment certificate.

In Iowa, there’s a bill that would allow 14 and 15 year olds to work specific jobs in the meat packing industry. It also protects employers from civil liability if any of the children employed are injured or killed on the job,

In Ohio, the state Senate has passed a bill loosening labor protections for minors. It would allow 14 and 15 year olds to work until 9 pm any time of the year if they have permission from their legal guardian. Current Ohio law prohibits kids under the age of 16 from working that late during the school year. The bill would still limit children younger than 16 from working more than three hours a day on a school day and for more than 18 hours a week during the school year.

These examples of a trend toward loosing child labor laws, largely by Republicans in so-called Red states, are catching many off guard. That’s because prior to the current legislative session, there was proof of widespread use of child labor in dangerous sanitation jobs in the meatpacking industry. Oversight of jobs involving food safety often involved corrosive chemicals and dangerous machinery.

But the Republicans involve say they are just cutting some of the red tape, endnote the underpinnings of their state child labor protections. Sanders says protecting kids is important, but so is removing burdens on parents who should not have to get the government’s permission for their children to get a job.

The meatpacking industry’s widespread reliance on child labor that resulted in its paying fines of $1.5 million and has also opened a probe by Homeland Security into human trafficking in meatpacking

Many of the millions who’ve entered the United States say they owe significant sums to the Mexican cartels, making them highly susceptible to human trafficking schemes. Yet there are no state reports of laws being strengthened to combat human trafficking

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