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January 2006, Vol. 129, No. 1
State labor legislation enacted in 2005
John J. Fitzpatrick, Jr.
A greater volume of labor legislation, concentrated in more than 30 tracked categories, was enacted in 2005, compared with the volume enacted in recent years.1 Forty-eight of the 50 States, along with the District of Columbia, enacted labor legislation of consequence in the categories tracked. Iowa and Massachusetts were the only two States that had not done so at the time this article was written. Arkansas, California, Illinois, Maine, Montana, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Virginia, and Washington all enacted above-average numbers of labor-related laws.2
The labor legislation that was enacted by the States addressed issues in a significant number of employment standards areas and included many important measures. Among the areas addressed were agriculture, child labor, State departments of labor, the discharge of employees, drug and alcohol testing, equal employment opportunity, employment agencies, employer leasing, family issues, genetic testing, handicapped workers, hours worked, human trafficking, immigrant protections, inmate labor, living wages, the minimum wage, offsite work, overtime, plant closings, prevailing wages, the right to work, time off, unfair labor practices, wages paid, whistleblowers, worker privacy, and workplace security. This article does not cover legislation on occupational safety and health, employment and training, labor relations, employee background checks (except for those dealing with security issues), economic security, and local living-wage ordinances. Areas that appeared the most in new or amended legislation enacted in 2005 were child labor, drug and alcohol testing, equal employment opportunity, human trafficking (an area of increasing interest), the minimum wage, the prevailing wage, time off, wages paid, and worker privacy.
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1 All of the State legislatures met in regular session in 2005. Iowa and the Virgin Islands did not enact significant legislation in the fields covered in this article. Information about Puerto Rico and Guam was not received in time to be included in the article, which is based upon information received by November 15, 2005.
2 Several tables displaying State labor law information, including tables on State mini-mum-wage rates, State prevailing-wage laws, and child labor issues, are available on the Internet at the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment Standards Administration, Web site; visit http://www.dol.gov/esa/programs/whd/state/state.htm.
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