The Missouri Legislature has passed a bill to partially repeal the state’s prevailing wage law. The Senate approved the change 22-9 mostly along party lines Thursday night while the House passed the measure Friday 97-50. Both votes were mostly along party lines with the Republican supermajority prevailing.
Prevailing wage refers to the rate of pay for employees on public works projects.
It’s intended to reflect wages for work on similar projects in local areas, but critics say it’s resulted in inflated pay based on wages in large urban areas.
The discrepancy is largely blamed on contractors failing to report wages paid. Under the plan passed by lawmakers, there would be no prevailing wage unless there are 1,000 reportable hours of pay for a particular occupation in a given county or locality.
The prevailing wage in such circumstances would be replaced by a county’s construction minimum wage. That rate of pay would amount to 120% of average wages determined by the state Economic Development Department.
The change in the law would not impact projects worth less than $75,000.
Republicans in the GOP dominated legislature have wanted to repeal or partially do away with the prevailing wage for years. They contend wages on public works projects are highly inflated, siphoning money from other local infrastructure needs.
Democrats, who have stronger ties to organized labor, contend the prevailing wage shouldn’t be repealed. Instead, they say contractors should be required to report the wages they pay. They argue that altering the prevailing wage structure will hurt small contractors and workers
A full repeal of the prevailing wage law cleared the lower chamber in March before failing to get traction in the Senate. The upper chamber amended the bill late Thursday night to be less stringent.
Republican have been particularly active in passing labor-related measures in the closing days of the session. Lawmakers passed tighter regulations on public sector unions yesterday.
The also moved the voting date of a union-backed ballot measure to the August primary election when voter turnout is historically much lower.
And a measure endorsing a Constitutional amendment to make right to work the law of the land did not see action in the Senate. A Senator told Missourinet that the upper chamber was satisfied with the passage of the partial repeal of prevailing wage and with a measure approved in the closing days or the session to require recertification elections for public sector unions.