AIHA recently submitted comments on two key pieces of legislation. One bill would allow 16- and 17-year-olds to work in mechanized logging operations under parental supervision. The other would provide members of the armed forces with tools to cover the costs of fees associated with civilian credentials while on active duty. THE FUTURE LOGGING CAREERS ACT In May 2014, U.S. Sens. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and James Risch (R-Idaho) and U.S Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho) introduced the Future Logging Careers Act, a bill that would exempt certain 16- and 17-year-old children employed in logging or mechanized operations from child labor laws. The legislation calls for the same regulatory exemptions as the agricultural industry, which allows family members between the ages of 16 and 17 to work under parental supervision. The bill was introduced as part of an effort to bolster one of Idaho’s most important industries and improve the state’s economy.
When the legislation was first introduced, AIHA members in Idaho voiced their concerns about 16- and 17-year-olds becoming involved in their families’ logging and tree-trimming operations and handling dangerous machinery. Our members said, “Just because it’s permissible in agriculture doesn’t make it right, and doesn’t mean one should do it in the logging industry.” These children simply aren’t qualified to handle such equipment. Statistics show that the agricultural industry, which has a similar exemption, is prone to high occupational injury and fatality rates. On average, 113 workers under the age of 20 die from farm-related injuries annually, according to NIOSH. Thirty-four percent of those deaths are attributed to young workers between 16 and 19 years of age. The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. THE TROOP TALENT ACT (CREDIT ACT) In April 2013, U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) introduced the Troop Talent Act of 2013, which would expand education and training opportunities to members and veterans of the armed forces and better assist them in obtaining civilian certifications and licenses. AIHA immediately supported the bill because it would provide veterans with increased opportunities to transfer their military skills and experience to a private sector career, particularly in the field of IH where credentialing and certification are often considered necessary. In December 2013, key components of the Troop Talent Act were passed into law as part of the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), providing service members with the tools they need to obtain credentials while on active duty.
Still, many service members do not have a means to pay the certification and license fees necessary to acquire credentials while they are on active duty. In May 2014, Sen. Kaine introduced the Credentialing Improvement for Troop Talent (CREDIT) Act of 2014 to help service members acquire credentials that would ease their transition into the civilian work force. This legislation would expand the authority of the military Tuition Assistance Program to cover credentialing expenses by authorizing the use of funds to pay for licensing fees and additional expenses such as training materials and test fees. If passed, this bill will help our service members when they transfer to the private sector because they’d have that professional certification. In other words, it would allow service members to become, say, a CIH for example and would pay for it. AIHA enthusiastically supports this bill because any time you can provide additional educational opportunities and knowledge to people in the IH profession, it’s a positive! YOUR VOICE I encourage you to add your voice in opposition to the Future Loggers Act and in support of the CREDIT Act. AIHA’s comments on both pieces of legislation are available from http://bit.ly/aiha_publicpolicy.
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A Tale of Two Bills
BY AARON TRIPPLER, DIRECTOR, AIHA® GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS