The Maine House joined the Senate May 18 in passage of a bill that would allow minors to work longer hours during the school year.

Local legislators were divided strictly along party lines with Republicans backing the measure and Democrats opposed.

The House voted 78-69 on May 18 to approve LD 516. The Senate gave its backing May 10 on a 21-13 vote.

The bill would increase from 20 to 24 hours the maximum hours that a minor can work during the school year, increase from four to six the maximum hours a student can work during a day during the school year, and allow students to work until 11 p.m. on a night before school. The current limit is 10 p.m.

Voting for LD 516 were Republican Reps. Wes Richardson of Warren, Dana Dow of Waldoboro, and Deborah Sanderson of Chelsea.

Opposed to the bill were Democratic Reps. Edward Mazurek of Rockland, Chuck Kruger of Thomaston, Joan Welsh of Rockport, Andrew O’Brien of Lincolnville, and Walter Kumiega III of Deer Isle.

On the May 10 Senate vote, all three Midcoast state senators — Republicans Christopher Rector of Thomaston, A. David Trahan of Waldoboro, and Michael Thibodeau of Winterport — voted for LD 516.

Rector said the bill made modest changes to one of the strictest set of regulations in New England. Opponents cautioned it could have an adverse impact on academic performance of students.

“With a continued high unemployment rate, we need to focus on creating jobs for parents not extending the hours students work,” said Rep. Erin Herbig, D-Belfast, in a news release sent by the Maine House Democrats.

A bill that would have set a lower training wage for teenagers died in the Legislature’s Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee.