Lawmakers debate allowing guest workers

Phoenix, AZ – State lawmakers are debating whether to allow companies to import foreign workers to fill some jobs. But Arizona Public Radio's Howard Fischer reports that one state senator has a different idea.

Jack Harper said he hears the complaints of businesses that they
can not fill certain jobs.

(Now I don't know that we have a labor shortage right now. But
when our economy cycles and starts coming back strong we will see
a labor shortage. And I think we need to exhaust all avenues of
employing Americans before we talk about hiring people from other

His proposal is to ease state law which now consider some jobs to
be too hazardous for teens. For example, youngsters 14 and 15 can
now work in agriculture, but only on ladders no taller than eight
feet. Harper wants to let them pick fruit on 20-foot ladders.
That's allowed under federal rules. He also wants to let 16 and
17-year-olds with licenses drive for a living, something now
prohibited by state law.

(We're one of the states where do-gooders in the Legislature
determined that it's unacceptable for a 16-year-old or 17-year-
old to deliver anything. I don't believe that a 17-year-old
should be preempted from delivering parts from a local automotive
store or delivering pizzas.)

Harper's proposals are being opposed by the state chamber of
commerce which wants a state guest worker program without these
kind of additional restrictions.

For Arizona Public Radio, this is
Howard Fischer.