Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders (R) signed into law this week legislation that rolls back significant portions of the state’s child labor protections.
The law eliminates requirements for the state to verify the age of children younger than 16 before they can take a job.
Sanders believes the provision was “burdensome and obsolete,” spokeswoman Alexa Henning said in an emailed statement. Remaining state and federal regulations are still in effect, she said. Sanders signed the Republican-backed bill on Tuesday.
Federal officials have pledged to crack down on child labor law offenses after regulators discovered hundreds of violations in meatpacking plants and after press reports emerged of children working in hazardous occupations around the country.
The Labor Department fined Packers Sanitation Services, a subcontractor for meatpacking plants, $1.5 million in February for illegally hiring children, some of whom sustained chemical burns after working with caustic cleaning agents.
Other states are also considering loosening child labor protections. A bill advancing in Iowa would allow 14- and 15-year-olds to work certain jobs in meatpacking plants and would shield businesses from civil liability if a youth worker is sickened, injured or killed on the job.
Wednesday, March 8, 2023
The Louisville Metro Police Department engaged in systemic civil rights abuses and excessive-force misconduct in the years leading up to the 2020 police killing of Breonna Taylor, according to the findings of a federal investigation released Wednesday that is likely to force the department to undergo sweeping changes.
The Justice Department’s probe found that officers committed unlawful and unconstitutional policing, including conducting searches based on invalid warrants, executing search warrants without knocking and announcing their presence, making unlawful stops and violating the rights of people engaging in protected free speech that is critical of the police department.
The report said that the Louisville police department has for years “practiced an aggressive style of policing that it deploys selectively, especially against Black people, but also against vulnerable people throughout the city. ... Failures of leadership and accountability have allowed unlawful conduct to continue unchecked. Even when city and police leaders announced solutions, they failed to follow through.”
The exhaustive and damning report also said that the police and the Louisville city government discriminated against people who have behavior health disabilities when responding to crisis situations.
At a news conference in Louisville, Attorney General Merrick Garland called the misconduct “heart-breaking” and said it “erodes the community trust that is needed for effective community policing.”
The report took nearly two years and was released just days before the third anniversary of Taylor’s death on March 13. It starts the clock on negotiations between the federal authorities and Louisville city and police leaders that is expected to result in a court-approved consent decree outlining what could amount to hundreds of specific changes within the department overseen by a federal monitor.
Although Louisville community leaders have decried reported abuses from officers for years, the Justice Department’s findings could spark new anger and distrust in the city’s police force.
Local residents protested for weeks after Taylor, 26, a Black emergency-room technician, was killed when plainclothes police officers burst into her apartment to carry out a search warrant in a drug probe. Her death, along with the police killing weeks later of George Floyd, a Black man, in Minneapolis sparked months of social justice demonstrations across the country.
Garland announced the pattern or practice probes into the police forces in both cities within his first days on the job in April 2021. The investigations involved a deep forensic review of nearly all aspects of each department, including reviews of data and body-camera footage, training methods, accountability structures, facilities and equipment, and management. The Minneapolis investigation is ongoing.
The lengthy review also weighed heavily on the Louisville police force as it attempted to repair trust with local residents while also combating a rise in violent crime that tracked national trends.
Erika Shields, hired by the city as chief in early 2021, struggled to balance her own push for greater accountability within the department with the ongoing specter of the federal probe. She resigned late last year after the voters elected a new mayor, Craig Greenberg (D), who named a Shield deputy, Jacquelyn Gwinn-Villaroel, to take over as interim police chief.
“I’ve met with several officers and divisions from across the police force and there is a renewed sense of optimism about new leadership in terms of the interim chief and mayor. That’s important,” Marcus Winkler, who took over in January as the chairman of the Louisville Metro Council, said in an interview Tuesday. “What would be interesting to see is how bad is the report from the DOJ? Is there some healing that will have to happen first in the community?”
The Justice Department has sought to demonstrate to local residents that it will seek accountability in Taylor’s killing. Last August, prosecutors filed federal civil rights charges against four current and former Louisville police officers, amid an outcry from civil rights activists and Taylor’s family that no one has been convicted of a crime in her death.
As I've mentioned before, one of the contributing factors to the US Civil War was the Nullification Crisis of 1832, where South Carolina refused to enforce federal tariff laws. Andrew Jackson eventually threatened military force against the state and South Carolina folded, but not until Jackson renegotiated tariff laws.
A Missouri law banning local police from enforcing federal gun laws is unconstitutional and void, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.
U.S. District Judge Brian Wimes ruled the 2021 law is preempted by the federal government under the U.S. Constitution’s supremacy clause.
“At best, this statute causes confusion among state law enforcement officials who are deputized for federal task force operations, and at worst, is unconstitutional on its face,” Wimes wrote.
Missouri’s Republican Attorney General Andrew Bailey in a statement said he will appeal the ruling.
“As Attorney General, I will protect the Constitution, which includes defending Missourians’ fundamental right to bear arms,” Bailey said. “We are prepared to defend this statute to the highest court, and we anticipate a better result at the Eighth Circuit.”
The Missouri law had subjected law enforcement agencies with officers who knowingly enforced federal gun laws without equivalent state laws to a fine of $50,000 per violating officer.
Federal laws without similar Missouri laws include statutes covering weapons registration and tracking, and possession of firearms by some domestic violence offenders.
Conflict over Missouri’s law wrecked a crime-fighting partnership with U.S. attorneys that Missouri’s former Republican attorney general, now-Sen. Eric Schmitt, touted for years. Under Schmitt’s Safer Streets Initiative, attorneys from his office were deputized as assistant U.S. attorneys to help prosecute violent crimes.
The Justice Department, which last year sued to overturn the Missouri law, said the Missouri state crime lab, operated by the Highway Patrol, refused to process evidence that would help federal firearms prosecutions after the law took effect.
The city of St. Louis, St. Louis County and Jackson County also filed a separate lawsuit over the gun law, which is pending.
They said in a joint statement that they were “encouraged” by the ruling and complained about the passage of “dangerous bills that make it more difficult to prevent gun violence in our communities.”
Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas, meanwhile, described the decision in a tweet as a “monumental defense of the safety of our families, our police, and our neighborhoods” The city is planning to file a brief in support of the pending lawsuit, detailing its opposition to the law.