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House passes bill allowing 16- and 17-year-olds to operate amusement rides

The spinning, bouncing, plunging and other twists and turns of an amusement park ride are scary fun for many people.

But would having a teenager buckling you in be a little too scary?

Not at all, say proponents of a bill passed 126-5 by the House Thursday that would permit 16- and 17-year-olds to operate fixed amusement park rides.

Rep. Brad Tabke (DFL-Shakopee), who sponsors HF3720/SF3358*, said there are plenty of regulations and safeguards outlined in the bill to ensure young operators will maximize rider safety.

The bill, as amended by the House, goes back to the Senate for concurrence. Sen. Carrie Ruud (R-Breezy Point) sponsors the proposal in that body, which initially passed it 65-2 April 20.

Current law prohibits minors from operating amusement rides, as the Department of Labor and Industry classifies the job as a hazardous occupation.

Under the bill, employers must meet certain conditions before allowing a 16- or 17-year-old to operate an amusement ride, including training young employees on:

  • the ride’s operating procedures;
  • specific duties of assigned positions;
  • general safety procedures;
  • specific procedures to follow in the event of unusual conditions or an interruption of operations; and
  • evacuation plans for the amusement ride.

Other provisions specify that 16- or 17-year-old operators:

  • must not operate or load and unload passengers on more than one amusement ride at a time;
  • can only operate rides located in a fixed-site amusement park; and
  • must be supervised by another employee age 18 or older on the premises.

The 16- and 17-year-olds would not be permitted to perform the required daily inspections of amusement rides, and employers must comply with all other applicable child labor laws and laws regulating amusement rides.

 

More employment opportunities for minors

Rep. Dan Fabian (R-Roseau) successfully offered an amendment that would permit employers to hire 16- and 17-year-olds to operate lawn-care equipment, such as powered mowers and weed trimmers.

“It’s a little ironic we have 16- and 17-year-olds that drive 500-horsepower tractors in the district that I represent, but they can’t get on a riding lawnmower,” he said.

To be eligible to operate powered lawn-care equipment, 16- and 17-year-olds would need to undergo training on the equipment; be directly employed by a golf course, resort, municipality, or rental property owner; and use proper safety gear, such as eye and ear protection, boots, and safety vests.


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