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Politics

Poliquin Bill Would Allow Teens to Work in Forest Industry

BANGOR, Maine - Some teenagers could be allowed to work in the Maine forestry industry if a bill co-sponsored by Maine 2nd District Rep. Bruce Poliquin gains traction.

Poliquin and Idaho Congressman Raúl Labrador have reintroduced the "Future Logging Careers Act" to allow 16- and 17-year-olds to work in mechanized logging operations under parental supervision.

That's an option available to farming families that Dana Doran, executive director of the Professional Logging Contractors of Maine, says should also be available to families engaged in the forest products industry.

"The agricultural community has had this exemption in the Fair Labor Standards Act for close to 50 years where 16- and 17-year-olds can work on farm equipment, or work with farm equipment, legally and they're exempted from FLSA, but loggers have never been," Doran says. "And now we're in this age of mechanization where logging is as safe as it's ever been - especially in the state of Maine."

The bill is supported by more than 30 logging industry groups and companies, including the American Loggers Council (ALC), a non-profit organization representing timber harvesters in 30 states.