Rapt attention

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Around the nation


Florida blocks heat protections for workers

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed a law that prevents cities or counties from creating protections for workers who labor in the state's often extreme and dangerous heat.

Two million people in Florida, from construction to agriculture, work outside in often humid, blazing heat.

For years, many of them have asked for rules to protect them from heat: paid rest breaks, water, and access to shade when temperatures soar. After years of negotiations, such rules were on the agenda in Miami-Dade County, home to an estimated 300,000 outdoor workers.

But the new law, signed Thursday evening, blocks such protections from being implemented in cities and counties across the state.


Louisiana removes lunch breaks for kids who work.

First-term state Rep. Roger Wilder, R-Denham Springs, who sponsored the child labor measure and owns Smoothie King franchises across the Deep South, said he filed the bill in part because children want to work without having to take lunch breaks. He questioned why Louisiana has the requirement while other states where he owns Smoothie King locations, such as Mississippi, don't have them, and criticized people who have questioned the bill's purpose.

My favorite quote: 

“The wording is ‘We’re here to harm children.’ Give me a break," he said. "These are young adults.”


Attorney Generals fight for right to pollute.

Manufacturers and 24 states sued the Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday over the Biden administration’s decision to tighten limits on fine industrial particles, one of the most common and deadliest forms of air pollution.

The state lawsuits are led by Republican attorneys general and argue that the E.P.A. overstepped its authority last month when it lowered the annual limits for fine particulate matter to nine micrograms per cubic meter of air, down from the current standard of 12 micrograms.

It was the first time in a decade that the E.P.A. had made it harder for power plants, factories and other polluting facilities to spew fine particulate matter. The tiny particles, known as PM 2.5 because they are 2.5 microns in diameter or smaller, can penetrate the lungs and bloodstream and increase the risk of heart disease, asthma and low birth weight.

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