Virginia Republicans double down on their commitment to child labor at the same time that it moves the official policy of the national GOP:
In an unrecorded party-line vote, House Republicans killed a bill Tuesday evening that would have cracked down on child labor at tobacco farms in Virginia. Two Democrats on the panel voted against killing the bill, although they were unable to persuade the Republican majority on a House Commerce and Labor subcommittee that children should not work with toxic chemicals on farms that grow a substance packaged with a warming from the surgeon general.
“If this was your kid, would you be OK with having them work in this job?” asked Del. Alfonso Lopez (D-49). “Would you? I don’t think you would. So why is it OK for kids you don’t know to do this job?”
Republicans answered that question with silence. None of them responded when Lopez made the issue personal, although the Arlington delegate explained that the issue is very personal for the 141 kids interviewed by Human Rights Watch in 2014. Those interviews led to a report titled “Tobacco’s Hidden Children: Hazardous Child Labor in US Tobacco Farming.” That report led to some startling conclusions, none of which have been able to move Republicans in the General Assembly so far.
“Child tobacco workers in Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia often experienced nausea and vomiting while cutting stalks of burley tobacco during the harvest,” the report noted. “Jacob S., a 14-year-old tobacco worker in Virginia, described similar symptoms. ‘I get a little bit queasy, and I get lightheaded and dizzy. Sometimes I feel like I might pass out. It just feels like I want to fall over.’”
Kids getting dizzy from tobacco poisoning? If you are a Republican, this is a feature, not a bug. If you need more information on child labor in American tobacco, Human Rights Watch issued a report on this issue a couple of years ago, which is what gave it greater attention, not that Republicans care.