In March the Assembly Labor and Employment Committee passed California Building and Construction Trades Council-supported bill AB 199. This bill would increase the prevailing wage requirements in the state by requiring employers to pay workers the “prevailing wage” on new privately constructed residential housing. This provision extends the requirement beyond the redevelopment agencies, public agencies and low-income housing projects covered under existing state law. The measure now moves to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
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The House Transportation and Energy Committee will hold a hearing in March on transportation funding bill HB 1242. The legislation, which would require voter approval in November, would increase the state sales tax from 2.9 percent to 3.52 percent (approximately $677 million per year) over the next 20 years. The funds from the sales tax increase would be used to issue $3.5 billion in bonds for transportation projects.
The House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee held a hearing in March on right to work bill SB 55.
Governor Malloy presented his FY 2018-2019 budget last month. The Governor’s budget proposal includes attacks on public-service workers, including $1.5 billion in collective bargaining concessions for state employees ($700 million in 2018 and $800 million in 2019) or the loss of 10 percent of the workforce (4,200 jobs). Malloy’s budget proposal would also shift 1/3rd of the cost of funding teacher pensions from the state to municipalities. Statements from the AFL-CIO, AFSCME, and AFT about the Governor’s proposed budget can be found here. AFT Connecticut’s summary of the Governor’s proposed budget can be found here. A statement from AFSCME Council 4 can be found here.
Governor Malloy has also proposed raising prevailing wage thresholds from $100,000 to $500,000 for remodeling work, and from $400,000 to $1 million for new construction. The Governor’s attack on prevailing wage is included in SB 793; the Joint Committee on Planning and Development held a hearing last week on SB 793. The Labor and Public Employees Committee held a hearing on a similar bill (HB 6211) last month as well. In addition, a press conference was held in February with construction workers, contractors, legislators and the Middletown and New London mayors to oppose raising the prevailing wage thresholds in the state.
Last month, the Joint Committee on Labor and Public Employees held a hearing on HB 5549. The bill would expand the definition of independent contractors to include more employees.
The Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee will hold a hearing on SB 534 in March. This bill would prohibit local governments from establishing living wage, prevailing wage and other labor standards for public works projects. The House Local, Federal and Veterans Affairs Committee passed companion bill HB 599 this week. That bill is now before the House Government Accountability Committee.
The House Committee on Housing passed proactive prevailing wage bill SB 1105 in March. This bill has been sent to the House Committee on Labor and Public Employment. According to the Hawaii Construction Alliance, the bill would promote affordable housing options and would enforce the terms of collective bargaining agreements and the state’s prevailing wage statute. In the Senate, the Committee on Housing will hold a hearing on companion bill HB 1179 this month.
The Senate passed HF 203 in March. The bill would allow the state’s Transportation Commission to “exchange” federal funds designated for public road construction projects for state taxpayer funds. This exchange would allow the state to bypass federal regulations such as prevailing wage and Buy American requirements attached to the use of federal funds. The bill will be sent next to the Governor for consideration.
The House Commerce Committee introduced HF 518 and the Senate Commerce Committee approved SF 435 in March. These workers’ comp attack bills would “end worker benefits at age 67, reduce benefits for injuries tied to pre-existing conditions, minimize late fees for employers who fail to pay benefits on time, and limit how much attorneys can reap in legal fees. The bills also would allow employers to deny benefits if an injured worker tests positive for drugs or alcohol” regardless of whether alcohol or drugs contributed to the cause of the injury. Action Alert: Iowans can email their legislators here about this bill.
The Senate passed SB 312 last month. The bill, which has been sent to the House, would preempt local Ban the Box ordinances that prohibit employers from requesting criminal history background information from applicants at the time of application.
The Senate Judiciary Committee may consider a substitute for HB 281 when the committee meets at the end of March. This substitute, which has been presented by the Senate President, would strip the Attorney General of his authority by giving the Governor the power to represent Kentucky “in civil matters before the Kentucky Court of Appeals, the Kentucky Supreme Court”. The substitute would allow the attorney general to represent Kentucky in civil matters only if the Governor has authorized him to act. Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear said recently that the substitute “is the single largest power grab since we had our last constitution set up…. it gives the Governor a get out of jail free card where in the future he could violate Kentucky law and violate the Constitution and then only he would get to decide whether he is held accountable.”
Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) on Saturday signed controversial legislation that will allow workers to refuse to pay union dues, a victory for Republicans who control the state government for the first time in nearly a century.
HB 296 remains before the Senate Economic Development, Tourism and Labor Committee. This bill “would prevent workers from making claims on injuries caused by repeated manual labor five years after they stopped doing the work”, and would prohibit workers from receiving workers’ compensation benefits after they are 70 years old. The bill would have beneficiaries enroll in Medicare, “shifting the financial burden from insurers and businesses to taxpayers.”
LD 66 remains before the Committee on Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development. This bill would prohibit payroll deduction for public-employee union dues or fees.
Public- and private-sector right to work bill LD 65 remains before the Committee on Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development.
Three bills that would repeal the state’s 51-year-old prevailing wage laws (SB 1, SB 2, SB 3) remain in front of the Senate Michigan Competitiveness Committee for consideration. The Senate approved similar legislation in 2016, but the House and Gov. Snyder opposed repeal, and the measure failed. In 2015, a citizens’ initiative was created to place the question of repeal on the November 2016 General Election ballot, but the petition drive failed when the out-of-state petition-circulators company was unable to collect the required amount of valid signatures.
In February, the House defeated HB 4001. This bill “included a massive tax break for millionaires and billionaires, and would have forced drastic cuts to education, roads, and public safety.” More information can be found here.
The House Economic Development Committee passed HB 133 and HB 476 in March. Both bills have been referred to the Rules and Legislative Oversight Committee. HB 133 would allow certain school districts to exempt themselves from prevailing wage requirements for school construction and maintenance, and HB 476 would repeal the prevailing wage in certain counties.
The following bills were referred to the House Rules-Legislative Oversight Committee after passage in March by the House Economic Development Committee:
- HB 44 would prohibit the Missouri Housing Development Committee from requiring a prevailing wage for work done on housing in an area that has been declared by the governor to be a disaster area.
- HB 78 would allow public bodies to opt out of prevailing wage requirements for public works projects that are not more than $750,000.
- HB 309 would allow municipalities to opt out of prevailing wage requirements for public works construction that is paid for completely by municipal tax revenues.
The House Rules and Legislative Oversight Committee passed HB 104 in March. The bill would repeal prevailing wage requirements on public works projects.
The following bills remain in the House Economic Development Committee:
- HB 79 would allow certain school districts to exempt themselves from prevailing wage requirements for school construction and maintenance.
- HB 132 would allow public bodies to opt out of prevailing wage requirements for public works projects that are not more than $750,000.
- HB 475 would exempt certain counties from prevailing wage requirements if the public works projects are less than $500,000.
Anti-PLA bill SB 182 was referred to the House Economic Development Committee.
The Senate General Laws Committee passed anti-prevailing wage bill SB 20 last month. The bill will be voted on by the Senate in a perfection vote next.
Anti-prevailing wage bill SB 29 remains before the Senate General Laws Committee.
The Senate referred UI bill HB 288 to the Senate Small Business and Industry Committee in March. The bill, which was passed by the House last month, would “shorten the benefit period for laid-off workers from 20 weeks to 13 weeks if the unemployment rate is below six percent. If the jobless rate climbs above six percent, the maximum number of weeks would increase and top out at 20 weeks if the unemployment rate rises to over nine percent.” Companion bill SB 189 will be voted on in a perfection vote by the full Senate next.
Apprenticeship bill LB 174 remains in the Legislature’s Revenue Committee. The measure would provide income tax credits to employers for wages paid to apprentices as part of a state-identified qualified apprenticeship training program. The tax credit would be equal to one dollar for each hour an apprentice worked during the year and would be capped at $2,000 or 50 percent of the apprentice’s wages.
The House defeated right to work measure SB 11 in February, voting 200 to 177 that the bill was "inexpedient to legislate". The House also voted to indefinitely postpone consideration of any other right to work bills for the rest of the legislative session. A statement from the NH AFL-CIO on the House vote on SB 11 can be found here. More information can be found here.
Private sector right to work bill HB 113 was introduced in March. The bill has not yet been referred to committee.
SB 72 is currently under consideration in the Finance Committee. This bill would allow local municipalities and state colleges and universities to opt out of paying the prevailing wage on taxpayer funded public construction projects, was introduced this week. The Affiliated Construction Trades of Ohio issued a statement that “weakening or eliminating the prevailing wage law would cause a 16 percent decrease in wages, which would trickle down to cuts in benefits, pensions, and contributions to apprenticeship programs”.
The Senate State Affairs Committee passed SB 75 this month. This bill would prohibit unions from accepting workers under the age of 18 as members unless the union has obtained the consent of the workers’ parents. The bill will be considered next by the full Senate. More information can be found here.
HB 1596 was vetoed by the Governor in March. HB 1596 would have prohibited state and political subdivisions from requiring prevailing wage requirements for public works projects. Also, the legislature sent HB 1753 to the Governor last week. The Governor has until 3/27 to take action on HB 1753, which would preempt local governments from establishing wage and benefit requirements for procurement of goods, services or construction.
This week the Senate Commerce, Labor and Sports Committee will hold a hearing on prevailing wage bill HB 1674. The legislation would require the state Department of Labor and Industries to establish the prevailing rate of wage using collective bargaining agreements.
The Assembly passed anti-PLA bills SB 3 in March. This bill would prohibit state and municipal governments from engaging in certain activities related to Project Labor Agreements. The bill will be sent to Governor Walker, who included it in his budget proposal.
The legislature gave final approval to SB 330 in March. The bill would make retroactive changes to the 2016 “Right to Work” law currently being challenged by the West Virginia AFL-CIO and others in court.
The Senate passed SB 222 last month. This bill, which has been sent to the House Judiciary Committee, would deny unemployment benefits for striking workers in all instances and locked-out workers in some instances.