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'Tallan Latz bill' stuck in Senate committee

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Kevin Murphy
April 1, 2010
— Other than taverns, young blues guitar prodigies have few places to perform, an Elkhorn father told a Senate committee Wednesday.

The committee is considering amendments to child labor laws.


Carl Latz’s 10-year-old son Tallan made 70 appearances last year but only 15 in Wisconsin because the state Department of Workforce Development has prohibited him from performing in taverns and nightclubs, Latz said.


Tallan plays guitar in the style of Stevie Ray Vaughn and other blues greats and has appeared on “America’s Got Talent” and the “Today” show. His appearances in taverns since he was 9 got the attention of competing musicians who complained to the state that Tallan’s performing in taverns was illegal.


“We haven’t had any gigs this winter because of the state,” Latz said. “We have very limited opportunities to play in Wisconsin.”


Latz last summer contacted State Sen. Neal Kedzie, R-Elkhorn, about changing the law to allow minors to perform music in taverns and similar venues until 9 p.m. on school nights and until 10 p.m. on other nights. Kedzie’s bill would require the parent to be present while the child under 14 plays a club or tavern.


“One of the ironies of state law is that a parent can buy their child a beer, but he can’t allow him to play a guitar in a bar,” Kedzie told the Senate Committee on Children, Families and Workforce Development.


“The bill creates a clear standard for gifted individuals,” he said, to perform in establishments that serve alcohol.


Tallan testified that he fits his musical appearances around attending an Elkhorn elementary school, and he would prefer the Legislature outlaw minors being able to drink in bars with their parents and instead allow them to play music.


State Sen. Robert Jauch, D-Poplar, said Kedzie’s bill puts the state on a “slippery slope” of allowing minors to work in places previously deemed inappropriate for juveniles.


“We have child labor laws for a reason as children have been exploited and abused in the past—even selling Girl Scout cookies was once against the law,” Jauch said.


Julaine Appling, president of Wisconsin Family Action, urged the committee to defeat the bill as bars are intended for adults not kids.


“Taverns, roadhouses and nightclubs are not innocuous places, and they were specifically excluded (as legal performance venues for children) for good reason. In taverns, children can be exposed to all kinds of adults—including some sexual predators who view children as prey,” Appling said.


While Latz may be a conscientious parent and Tallan and exceptional performer, the bill would apply to parents who might not be as careful about exposing their children to the potential harm that can be found in bars.


Kedzie, a father of three children, defended his bill, saying it was carefully considered and would allow children to perform in limited venues “where’s there’s good, clean fun.”


“The bill doesn’t change prohibition against children engaging in activities that are detrimental to their health and well being,” he said.


The committee took no action on the bill. The current legislative floor session ends next month.



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