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Another licensing bill to go under microscope

By Paul Snyder

There’s a lot of talk in the state Capitol these days about licensing — crane operators, heavy equipment operators and ironworkers.

The ironworkers bill passed out of the Assembly Committee on Labor on Tuesday and can now go for a vote on the Assembly floor.

Licensing debates have fairly well-defined sides. Opponents generally want to avoid the paperwork and do not want to relinquish decision making to someone behind a desk at a state agency.

Supporters promote safety.

Both sides agree to try to find agreement, but they only get some of the way there.

Then these bills head to the floor without consensus and time for the opponents to convince lawmakers why it will be trouble.

But on Wednesday, the Senate Committee on Labor, Elections and Urban Affairs will review a bill requiring better state enforcement to avoid misclassification issues. For example, workers being paid under the table or to those not receiving unemployment insurance or worker’s compensation when they are entitled.

That bill is the process of more than a year’s worth of work by a special task force and, during the process, different industry groups voiced their concerns that it could be an extra burden on contractors playing by the rules. In the end, however, it generated support from industry groups that initially had worried about it.

The difference? A long process where everyone can bring their desires and concerns to the table and a bill can be drafted taking all of it into consideration.

It’s a timely process, and if all bills were to go through it, a lot of things (for better or worse) would not get passed. But when you’re talking about licensing that affects contractors and workers at various levels throughout the state, maybe it deserves that kind of time and input for a shot at consensus.

Paul Snyder is a staff writer at The Daily Reporter. He can be reached in the Madison office at (414) 225-1844.

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