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Late-game fatigue setting in in Madison

By Paul Snyder

Lawmakers at the Capitol are working hard to get a number of bills through before session ends Thursday.

I know it’s the nature of the beast — if it wasn’t for the last second, nothing would get done, right? — but there are some bills that leave me scratching my head when it comes to timing.

For instance, Senate Republicans on Friday released essentially a companion bill to one issued in the Assembly in March that would repeal the changes made in the state budget to the prevailing wage law.

Those changes included lowering the threshold at which prevailing wages must be paid on public projects from $234,000 to $25,000, establishing monthly prevailing wage reporting requirements for contractors, and requiring contractors to pay prevailing wages on private projects that use public money.

They also sparked a court injunction against the law, moves by the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development to make the requirements easier on contractors and extended divisiveness in an industry that’s not always the quickest to warm to change.

It seems to me the best thing to do would let both the proponents and opponents testify about the changes and the effects they have on the industry and then have lawmakers decide.

Critics say they didn’t get that chance during the budget process. And while the chances for a bill repealing those chances are slim to none at best, at least the forum would be there.

When state Rep. Mary Williams, R-Medford, introduced her bill, it was made almost immediately clear there wouldn’t be a hearing. Now with only a shred of time left, the Senate version’s chances for a hearing are slim to none.

Would it have had a better chance had the Senate version also been issued in March?

Maybe, or maybe the Senate committee would have also had a lack of interest. But putting the bill up with only a few days left in session rings hollow.

I know everyone has their eyes on their watches, but sometimes a bit of debate can lead to a good time … and good results.

Paul Snyder is a staff writer at The Daily Reporter. He is also suffering from a bout of late-game fatigue, but that’s attributed to the Chicago Cubs.

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