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Gosselin kids: New hearing set on child labor reform

Pennsylvania legislator Thomas Murt moved another step closer to his goal of reforming the child labor laws in the state where TLC's "Kate Plus 8" is filmed.

The Democrats who control the House Labor Committee in Pennsylvania have agreed to a date for bipartisan hearings on Murt's bill to reform the state's child labor laws as they pertain to reality TV.

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The hearings will be held Sept. 23 in Harrisburg.  While a list of testifiers has not been set yet, Murt. a Republican, is expected to testify.

UPDATE: Thursday morning -- click ahead for comments from child advocate and one-time child TV star Paul Petersen.

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Child advocate Paul Petersen, a one-time child star on "The Donna Reed Show," has been in Pennsylvania all week meeting with lawmakers, business leaders and the media in an attempt to further the efforts of Murt.

Wednesday, Petersen met with State Rep. Gene DiGirolamo, the minority chair of the labor committee.  DiGirolamo endorsed the bill in June and reportedly wants Petersen to testify to the need for these reforms -- though that decision ultimately belongs to the Democrat majority.

Given the efforts by TV industry lobbyists who have been working all summer to stop Murt's efforts at reform, the bi-partisan hearing set for Septrember is a victory.

"We definitely have gotten the industry's attention," said Petersen.  "They do not want this bill passed because they want as few restrictions as possible, even if it threatens the health and well-being of children.

"That's why I'm so pleased that the House Labor Committee has agreed to bipartisan hearings on Murt's bill.  These are commonsense reforms that should be embraced by all legislators regardless of party affiliation."

Petersen described his presenec in Pennsylvania by saying: "I'm here to help Tom explain the importance of reforming Pennsylvania's antiquated child labor laws and to send the message that we intend to continue this fight until Pennsylvania recognizes that children in reality TV are actors, are working, and deserve protection from producers and parents who have shown that they will manipulate and exploit kids for the right price."

Also, I hope those readers who have feelings about the video showing the Gosselin kids and Jon that is generating so much discussion will comment here. Several bloggers have asked for a fresh thread to discuss that disturbing video, Here it is.

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