Wisconsin Labor Law Changes

Late last Friday, the Wisconsin budget committee issued a series of new policies as part of their state budget bill.  According to Gov. Scott Walker, these changes, which approves bail bondsmen in Wisconsin, sales tax exemptions for snow-making equipment and direct mail promotions, changing child labor laws, and blocking local regulations on bird hunting preserves, and the 2011-13 state budget itself “is consistent with the governor’s priorities – it nearly eliminates the $3.6 billion budget deficit without raising taxes.”

Many of the newly proposed policies in the bill are appropriate for such a budget because of their notable financial implications, should the bill be passed.

Below are some of the changes introduced by Joint Finance:

Requiring local governments to use contractors, in place of of their own road crews, for certain projects that cost more than $100,000. Critics have said that this could increase costs for deficient cash cities and counties.

Providing an exemption from the state sales tax in the amount of $150,000-a-year  for grooming and snow-making equipment used by trails and ski slopes.

Providing an exemption from the sales tax in the amount of $500,000-a-year for direct-mail advertising.

Revising child labor laws to desist with a prohibition on minors under age 18 working more than 40 hours or six days a week. In addition, the bill would also repeal the prohibition against minors under 16 working more than 24 hours a week, replacing that with a limit of 18 hours of work in a school week or 40 hours during a week with no school in session. This change effectively federalizes Wisconsin’s policy on child labor.

Much controversy has accompanied these changes; particularly with the child labor laws changes. Rep. Tamara Grigsby, along with others, have questioned the new limits for child labor. Carl Miller, owner of Miller & Sons Supermarket in Verona, explains that while some of his 17-year-old employees might be able to work more hours, they would still have high school obligations.

“When it comes down to it, we believe school comes first,” he said.

While Miller and many others may have that priority in mind, irresponsible parents and ignorant minors may not. Critics of this change express concern over how students’ grades may change in response to their increased freedom in regards to work hours. A writer on wisoncsinwave.org writes, “I fear this change will result in teens working more and more hours each week and earning lower and lower grades as a result.”

In addition, Miller & Sons Supermarket and similar businesses stated that while it may greatly affect minors, it isn’t expected to strongly alter business.

Sources:                                                                                                                                                  http://www.veronapress.com/main.asp?SectionID=2&SubSectionID=2&ArticleID=3736 http://www.jsonline.com/news/statepolitics/123243383.html http://wisconsinwave.org/publications-talks/walkers-proposed-budget-spares-no-one-wisconsin-devastating-cuts