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Reps. McNally, Grim Introduce Child Performer Protection Act

HB 521 protects minor performers employed in the entertainment industry from work that is detrimental to their life and health
May 9, 2024
Michele Grim News

COLUMBUS – State Reps. Lauren McNally (D-Youngstown) and Michele Grim (D-Toledo) Wednesday introduced House Bill (HB) 521, the Child Performer Protection Act. The legislation initiates steps to protect minors in Ohio working in the entertainment industry from employment that is detrimental to their life and health. 

“The recent exposé of Nickelodeon’s treatment of its child stars has underscored the importance of protecting minor performers from exploitation and harm, with many former child actors coming forward with accounts of sexual abuse, abusive work environments, and racial and gender discrimination. As one of 17 states that does not regulate child entertainment at all, Ohio needs to do more to protect young performers who work in our state,” said Rep. McNally. “The Child Performer Protection Act is how we do it.” 

“The laws currently in effect that are meant to protect children working in the entertainment industry have fallen quickly behind what is actually needed for some of our most vulnerable laborers. Amendments and updates are needed now to bring these protections into the 21st century,” said Rep. Grim. “The Child Performer Protection Act would put safeguards in place that would truly benefit child entertainers.” 

The Child Performer Protection Act will:

  • Allow a child under 14 to be issued a work permit from their school district if they are a minor performer and of compulsory school age working in a motion picture, theatrical, radio, or television production while providing instruction that complies with the law and is taught by a licensed individual.
  • Prohibit employment as a minor performer if the employment is detrimental to the minor’s life, health, safety, welfare, or morals or interferes with the minor’s schooling.
  • Require accompaniment of a parent or guardian at all rehearsals appearances, performances, and sessions occurring in connection with the employment.
  • Place restrictions on the number of hours minors may work per week using a tiered system based on age.
  • Require an examination by an independent physician to verify that the minor is physically capable of the nature and duration of the employment.
  • Prohibit exposure to potentially hazardous conditions unless a trainer or accredited technician is always present during potential exposure.
  • Require a parent or guardian to establish a trust account for the minor’s benefit, in which 15% of their earnings during employment will be deposited. 

The bill now awaits assignment to a committee and first hearing for further consideration.