Several pro-business bills have cleared the state senate in the first half of the session. But one that is likely to cause a big fight is waiting when lawmakers go back to work Monday.
Senate leader Rob Mayer is pushing a major change in the prevailing wage law–the system that establishes how much people in various occupations are paid on public projects. The state labor department says it sets different rates for each county. But Mayer says only thirty percent of counties file wage reports, leaving the Department to adopt wage rates negotiated by the AFL-CIO.
He points to his home county. Stoddard, as an example of the problem the present system causes. He says the county did not report to the stage what the usual salary paid to electricians on private projects is, and the state set a union-based rate about three times the private project rate.
That’s the same as the rate in St. Charles County where Mayer says the median household income is double that in Stoddard County. Mayer says that discourages local contractors from bidding on jobs and drives up public project costs in an area that struggles to pay them.
He wants to let the federal bureau of labor statistics set the rates, which he says would more accurately reflect local conditions.
Opponents have not been allowed to criticize his idea. He says they’ll have their chance after spring break.
AUDIO: Senate discussion, part one 1:02:26