Carpenter sponsors child performer bill

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Jan. 26—District 4 state Rep. Kasey Carpenter, R-Dalton, is the lone Republican sponsor of a recent bill revolving around child performers.

House Bill 968, also sponsored by four Democratic lawmakers, was introduced to the Georgia General Assembly on Jan. 22.

The eight-page bill would amend Georgia code to redefine "child performer" to mean "a minor that agrees to render artistic or creative services" — which is further elaborated to include motion pictures, radio or television productions, concerts, modeling and photography, among other things.

"Such term includes but is not limited to an actor, dancer, musician, comedian, singer, stunt person, voice-over artist, runway or print model, other performer or entertainer, songwriter, musical producer, arranger, writer, director, producer, production executive, choreographer, composer, conductor or designer," the most recent iteration of the bill reads.

Under the bill, the state commissioner of labor would have to "investigate and determine" that the employment conditions are "not detrimental to the health of the minor" and that the minor'e education "will not be neglected or hampered by his or her participation as a child performer."

The bill would also require the parents or legal guardians of child performers to establish a blocked trust account, with the minor listed as a beneficiary.

"At least 15% of the gross earnings of the child performer shall be deposited into the account," the bill text reads. "The funds in the account shall become available to the child performer when the minor reaches the age of majority or is declared emancipated."

If parents or guardians fail to transfer funds into such blocked trust accounts within specific timeframes, the earnings would be "reported and remitted to the commissioner of revenue" under the Disposition of Unclaimed Property Act.

A large section of the bill pertains to "vlogging" — i.e., videos posted on platforms such as YouTube and TikTok.

Per the bill language, a minor would technically be "employed" as a vlogger if "at least 30% of the vlogger's video content for which he or she received compensation produced within a 30-day period included the likeness, name or image of the minor" over a 12-month period.

The bill would also require vloggers to maintain records charting things like "the total number of minutes of the vlogs for which the vlogger received compensation during the reporting period" and "the total number of minutes each minor was featured in blogs during the reporting period."

Under HB 968, failure to maintain such logs could pave the way for either minors or their parents/guardians to commence civil actions.

The bill also lays out new scheduling restrictions for child performers.

No infants between birth or 15 days would be permitted to "work" under the bill, while minors older than 15 days but younger than six months would be allowed to "work" for a maximum of 20 minutes per day.

"A minor between 9 and 16 years old shall not start work before 7 a.m., shall not work more than five hours per day, shall not be at a location for more than 10 hours per day and shall not work past 10 p.m. on a school night or 12:30 a.m. on a non-school night," the bill text reads. "A minor who is 16 or 17 years old shall not start work before 7 a.m., shall not work more than eight hours per day, shall not be on a location for more than 12 hours per day and shall not work past 10 p.m. on a school night or 12:30 a.m. on a non-school night."

Under the bill, the state commissioner of labor would be authorized to "make limited exceptions to the scheduling restrictions provided for" unique child performers, circumstances or events.