House makes changes in Senate bill on teen jobs, work hours

DES MOINES — The Iowa House has voted to make changes in a Senate bill that expands the hours teenagers may work and the types of jobs they may perform. Sixteen and 17 year olds would be able to sell or serve alcohol in a restaurant, but not a bar — and the House voted to require that two adults be present. If the kitchen is closed and food service has stopped, teenagers would have to stop serving alcohol.

Republican Representative Dave Deyoe  of Nevada said the overall package provides reasonable work opportunities for teenagers. “Here are some of the things that are the benefits for employment for young people…less poverty, money for future education, less delinquent behavior, experience in the workplace and access to role models,” Deyoe said during Tuesday’s debate.

House Democratic Leader Jennifer Konfrst thanked Republicans for accepting some of the ideas House Democrats proposed. “This is how it’s supposed to work,” Konfrst said. “The bill is better than the Senate’s…doesn’t make it great, but it makes it better and it makes it better for Iowans.”

But Konfrst and other House Democrats still voted against the bill, citing concerns about having teenagers engaged in some jobs and being too tired for school.

The House-passed bill specifies that 14 and 15 year olds cannot be eligible for state waivers to work at certain occupations, but Deyoe said it will let 16 and 17 year olds be involved in work-based learning programs.

“I learned welding, I learned electrical wiring — I learned all that stuff in shop when I was in high school, but a lot of the high schools can’t afford to maintain (the equipment),” Deyoe told reporters. “…It costs thousands and thousands of dollars to buy the equipment and they’ve got to continue to buy new stuff all the time to keep it updated.”

The bill says teenagers cannot work in meatpacking plants or in the mining industry. Deyoe is optimistic the Senate will approve House adjustments in the bill and send it to the governor.