Albany Pushes Labor Department on Child Performer Rules

Albany is beginning to take aim at the New York State Department of Labor's controversial proposal for new regulations governing child performers. In a letter sent yesterday to the Labor Department, freshman state Sen. David Carlucci expressed concern that the new rules would place child performers in danger and stifle New York's film and TV production industries.

"The film, production, and theater businesses are responsible for thousands of jobs in New York state," Carlucci wrote. "If we were to impede these businesses with undue or burdensome regulations, they may seek to do business in another state or country. This would cause serious economic consequences for New York and damage its reputation for being a premier film and television mecca."

Carlucci, chair of the Senate's Administrative Regulations Review Commission, also emphasized the importance of giving "notable consideration" to the safety and well-being of child performers and criticized the department for not doing more to reach out to industry leaders and parents. Carlucci urged the department to engage in dialogue with parties affected by the rules.

Late last year, the Labor Department published a set of proposed strict guidelines covering health screenings, work hours, and classroom time for child performers. But the proposal drew fire from parents, industry representatives, and performers' unions, who claimed that the rules were burdensome, dangerous, and in some cases unenforceable. A Labor Department spokesperson told Back Stage last week that the rules would not be put into effect as written and that a revised set of regulations would be issued sometime after Feb. 7.