Grocery Store - Morgue File - public domainThe Associated Press is reporting this morning that the labor law that permitted 15-year-olds to work in grocery stores as baggers,  shelf stockers and cashiers, is no longer in effect, "apparently because lawmakers forgot to renew it."

According to the AP:

The 20-year-old law had to be renewed every five years, and lawmakers didn’t do that last session, allowing it to expire on Oct. 1.

"New 15-year-olds will have to wait until we convene for the next session," said state Sen. Edith G. Prague, D-Columbia, the co-chair of the legislature’s labor committee.

Those 15-year-olds who had working papers from their school guidance offices prior to Sept. 30, may still continue working in grocery stores, she said.

The idea that the government could simply "forget" to renew statutes, particularly where the legislature has set a sunset provision is astonishing and troubling. While the expiration of this statute won’t effect a great majority of teens, it is still will hurt some smaller grocery stores who rely on these teenagers to fill gaps in their employment ranks and will hurt some teens looking for an early first job.

So what does the expired law actually state? It can be found at Conn. Gen. Stat. Sec. 31-23(b)(1). 

(b) (1) [A] minor who has reached the age of fifteen may be employed or permitted to work in any mercantile establishment, from September 30, 2002, to September 30, 2007, inclusive, as a bagger, cashier or stock clerk, provided such employment shall be:

(A) limited to periods of school vacation during which school is not in session for five consecutive days or more except that such minor employed in a retail food store may work on any Saturday during the year;
(B) for not more than forty hours in any week;
(C) for not more than eight hours in any day; and,
(D) between the hours of seven o’clock in the morning and seven o’clock in the evening, except that from July first to the first Monday in September in any year, any such minor may be employed until nine o’clock in the evening.

The article does not explain why the statute had a sunset provision to begin with, but here’s hoping the legislature takes immediate steps to rectify their oversight.  In the future, one who hope that the legislature will task someone with keeping track of these sunset provisions.   Otherwise, just take out the sunset provisions and leave it to future legislatures to remove the rule if they don’t like it.