LANSING, Mich. — State Rep. Greg VanWoerkom, R-Norton Shores, is pushing forward a proposal in the Michigan legislature that would allow 16 year olds to operate amusement park rides. Currently in the state of Michigan, the law requires ride operators to be 18.
The bill would lower the age, allowing 16 year olds to operate any amusement park ride in Michigan.
VanWoerkom testified in the Michigan House Tuesday, saying that because the unemployment rate is so low, a main job provider in his district—Michigan's Adventure—is struggling to hire enough employees of age.
“This is about giving our youth opportunities for employment and for their growth,” VanWoerkom said. “Carnivals and amusement parks are great seasonal employment opportunities for kids to gain work experience and start saving. We should be looking at qualifications beyond just age and ensure rides are operated in a safe manner.”
The plan would require every ride operator to receive the necessary safety training before being able to operate ride.
Camille Jourden-Mark, the vice president and general manager at Michigan's Adventure, also spoke in the Michigan House. She said the amusement park currently employees 1,300 seasonal workers from the West Michigan area.
“This legislation will provide additional flexibility for staffing, while also continuing our priority of ride safety and in-depth training," said Jourden-Mark.
If the bill passes, Michigan would join 37 other states that allow 16 year olds to operate amusement park rides. House Bill 5134 is still being considered by the House Regulatory Reform Committee.
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