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More voices calling to be heard on prevailing wage

By Paul Snyder

As with many issues the Legislature tackled in the state budget instead of standalone bills, the prevailing wage law changes riled many opponents who argued the topic was too important not to get its own hearing.

So the way opponents try to get those hearings is by launching their own bills to repeal changes made in the budget, and although it hasn’t cracked the formal legislative queue yet, state Rep. Mary Williams, R-Medford, has announced a bill is coming to repeal each of the prevailing wage law changes made in the 2009-11 state budget.

State Sen. Dan Kapanke, R-La Crosse, became the latest lawmaker to publicly support the proposed bill, saying the changes that went into effect Jan. 1 are too burdensome on local governments and too much of an intrusion on private sector business.

The changes include lowering the reporting threshold on public works projects from $234,000 to $25,000, requiring contractors provide the state monthly prevailing wage payment reports and a requirement that contractors pay prevailing wages on private projects that use public money.

Does a bill that switches everything back to the way it was have much chance in the Democrat-controlled Legislature that passed the state budget?

Probably not.

But what the bill does is provide proponents and opponents the chance to sound off on the changes. Whether it’s from legal action, policy support or a political stump, people want to be heard on this one.

State Rep. Christine Sinicki, D-Milwaukee, told me that if the bill goes to the Assembly Committee on Labor as expected, she will hold a hearing on it.

And even if it doesn’t make it out of committee, a hearing might at least provide some kind of closure on the topic.

That is, until another Legislature changes it all again.

Paul Snyder is a staff writer at The Daily Reporter. In the past year, he has asked his boss three times for a prevailing wage.

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