(WKBN) – The Ohio legislature is considering a law that would allow teenagers — ages 14 and 15 — to work longer hours during the school year. It has already passed the state Senate and is being considered by the House. While some businesses that employ young people support it, there are others that don’t.

“I think a lot of young kids, they do want to do this. They’re a little bit more mature,” said John Barker, president of the Ohio Restaurant Association.

The Ohio Restaurant Association was one of the first organizations to suggest allowing young teenagers to work longer hours.

“We started talking with them well over a year ago, once we got through the pandemic,” Barker said.

Senate Bill 30, as it’s known, would allow teenagers ages 14 and 15 to work from 7-9 p.m. during the school year. Currently, they can’t work past 7 p.m. It would also require a parent and the school superintendent to sign for the student to allow them to work.

“You know, across Ohio, we have about 23,000 food service locations. They’re asking for us to find creative ways to try and get more people into the workforce,” Barker said.

“I don’t think children should ever be the solution to a workforce shortage problem and that’s what they’re trying to do with this bill,” said Democratic State Representative Lauren McNally.

McNally says they should raise pay, improve benefits and make it easier for women to enter the workforce rather than make it easier for young teenagers to work.

“That is archaic in my mind. That is industrial, that’s preindustrial. Child labor laws have been on the books for 100 years specifically to protect children,” McNally said.

McNally has suggested three amendments be added: to perform audits on businesses that hire minors, to increase fines from $50,000 to $150,000 for businesses violating child labor laws and to require school employees to report violations.

“You don’t need to put them in harm’s way at a very young age working jobs that could be very dangerous to them,” McNally said.

“It’s oftentimes a learning moment. You get mentored a little bit. You get to kind of learn how to interact with the public and skills that will really pay off for you as you move forward with your life, even as a young person,” Barker said.

The House Commerce and Labor Committee is expected to vote on the bill on Tuesday. It could come to a full vote of the House on Wednesday. Governor Mike Dewine would then have to sign it. We contacted the governor’s spokesman on where he stands on the issue. He said the governor is “monitoring it as it progresses through the committee process.”