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Legislative street cred

Everybody had a little chuckle Tuesday when members of the state Assembly Committee on Workforce Development learned they would have an opportunity to revise the administrative rules governing “minors in street trades.”

No doubt the slightly obsolete designation “street trades” brought to mind the term “street walker” and others of a similarly suggestive cast. Someone in the room quipped that the state does have laws pertaining to what everyone was thinking about, but they are in a different part of the statutes.

So what technically constitutes a street trade? According to Wisconsin statute, the term refers either to the hawking of wares or publications, such as newspapers, on the street or from house to house, or to the largely lost art of blacking boots.

It’s the sort of work that people used to talk about being undertaken by street urchins. But nobody uses the word “urchins” anymore, and a similar retirement might be due for the term “street trades.”

Minors in Wisconsin, to take part in any of the above-mentioned activities, must follow a series of rules listed in Wisconsin administrative code. It was that code that the members of the workforce development committee had gathered to review Tuesday.

Their goal, as part of the “right the rules” plan announced by Republican lawmakers in January, was to eliminate redundant, unnecessary and, yes, obsolete parts of Wisconsin administrative code.

It seems one of the first places they should start is with the term “street trades.”

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