ADA — Oklahoma Rep. Rebecca Hamilton of District 89, Oklahoma City, is seeking to get a bill into legislation concerning the number of hours a teen can work during a school year.

The bill, which goes into consideration during the legislative session Feb. 6, would limit teen-age workers to only three hours of work on school days, and eight hours a day on weekends.

Hamilton said a vast majority of residents within her district are of low-income status and teen-agers are often looked upon to bring in additional income.

"In my district, I have a large number of people that are of lower income, and a lot of these kids have to go to work," she said. "They're not working to buy a pair of Gucci shoes, they're having to pay for part of the rent, utilities and food."

Local residents have a different view of the potential bill, however.

Ada High School senior Marisa Long felt that the decisions should ultimately be decided personally.

"I think that if the kid wants to work more, then they can," she said. "If the parents have a problem with it, then that's whenever something can be done about it. It's just up to the kid and the parents."

Brad Cochran, 17-year-old Byng High School student, is just one of approximately 40 employees under the age of 18 who works at the McDonald's in Ada. His response to the potential bill is simply, "I need more than three hours to keep up with my car payment."

"I think if you cut the hours of the teen-agers, it will cut the business and cut the economy down in Ada and surrounding areas," McDonald's manager Reneay Smith said. Smith employs approximately 85 workers, half of which are under the age of 18.

Wal-Mart manager Ken Hoyle also had the same feelings toward the potential bill.

"I don't agree with it for the simple fact that, for the kids to only work three hours a day, I don't think they could sustain themselves financially," Hoyle said. "From a business point-of-view, there's only so many things that a business would have for them to do for three hours."

Hamilton also said teens sometimes do not know how to refuse working additional hours, for fear of retaliation from their employers.

"Employers use teens and work them too much, and they're too scared to say no, which causes a drop in school attendance," she said. "I think that what this bill will do is it will give them protection under the law they need and some sort of hope for their lives. If they drop out of school, they are doomed to these sorts of jobs for the rest of their lives."

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