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House Passes Labrador Bill Aiding Idaho Family Loggers

 

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Wednesday | Nov. 1, 2017

        Dan Popkey - 208.800.1565

        Todd Winer – 202.495.8546

 

HOUSE PASSES LABRADOR BILL
AIDING IDAHO FAMILY LOGGERS

 Proposed by Idaho timber families, bill enables youth to work in family operations

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The House passed the Resilient Federal Forests Act today, a bipartisan bill that will improve forest health, combat catastrophic fires and restore sensible multiple-use management (H.R. 2936). This legislation includes Rep. Raúl Labrador’s bill to permit 16- and 17-year-olds to work in family-owned mechanized logging operations, extending a similar exemption that applies to agricultural workers.

Labrador’s bill, the Future Logging Careers Act (H.R. 1454) was suggested in 2014 by two Idaho loggers who met with Labrador, Tim Christopherson of Kamiah and Mark Mahon of Council, who were in Washington on behalf of the American Loggers Council. Mahon described how his teenage son was working in the woods when he was sent home by a Forest Service official because there is no exemption for family logging.

Learning that loggers operating machinery were treated differently than farmers under the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act, Labrador championed extending the provision to young loggers under parental supervision. He first introduced the bill in 2014.

“For generations, people making their living in the woods have passed on their skills, making the work safer, supporting families and building rural communities,” Labrador said. “These family operations are vital to providing products necessary for our economy and they should enjoy treatment similar to agricultural families.”

“It’s no different than farming,” Mahon said Wednesday. “It’s just bigger corn. It’s a renewable resource and it’s something that the country needs.”

Christopherson said the bill will help sustain a key U.S. industry. “The passage of H.R 2936 with the Future Logging Careers Act included will help the youth in logging families safely learn the business of logging,” he said. “Working alongside family members learning the skills of moving timber out of the woods safely will ensure that the next generation of loggers can continue providing wood products for our growing needs.”

Shawn Keough, executive director of the Associated Logging Contractors of Idaho, said Labrador’s bill will boost the economy. Her group is one of more than 30 logging industry groups backing the bill.

“Allowing young people to learn to safely operate modern logging equipment in their family businesses will replicate the great experience that’s long been available on America’s family farms,” Keough said. “As an industry that provides the wood products we use every day, logging is both a way of life and a fact of life. Idaho’s loggers are pleased to see the House move to help develop the next generation of logging families to serve a healthy American economy.”

Labrador’s H.R. 1454 was included in the larger Resilient Federal Forests Act as Section 910. The Resilient Federal Forests Act simplifies process requirements and reduces planning times, while continuing to protect the environment. The bill provides incentives for collaboration, creates a pilot program to use binding arbitration to resolve legal challenges and accelerates habitat improvement for wildlife. The bill also reforms the way the federal government pays for fighting catastrophic fires by treating them like natural disasters.

To watch Labrador’s floor speech on the bill, click here.