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Prevailing wage revamp goes to House floor

The Charleston Gazette
2/25/2015
Legislation to recalculate West Virginia’s long-standing formula for setting prevailing wages for workers on publicly funded construction projects, and to repeal prevailing wage on projects costing less than $500,000 (SB 361) advanced to the House floor from the Government Organization Committee on a largely party-line 17-8 vote. Committee members rejected amendments offered by Democratic members to lower the threshold for prevailing wage to contracts of $500,000 or more, as well as several attempts to push back the July 1 deadline to have the newly calculated prevailing wage rates in place. Proponents of the bill argue that the existing prevailing wage system, which dates back to the Great Depression of the 1930s, artificially inflates wages for construction workers on many public works projects, adding to the cost of schools, state, county and municipal buildings and other nonhighways construction projects. Committee Democrats argued, however, that the bill would hurt the state’s economy, by lowering wages for working people and by allowing out-of-state contractors using transient labor to underbid in-state businesses for public contracts. Read more

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Prevailing wage bill headed to full House

Charleston Daily Mail
2/25/2015
A bill that changes prevailing wage in West Virginia is on its way to the full House of Delegates. The House Government Organization Committee on Wednesday voted 17-8 with only one Democrat voting yes to report the bill to the floor. Senate Bill 361 seeks to modify how prevailing wage rates are calculated, calling on WorkForce West Virginia to work with economic research bureaus from West Virginia University and Marshall University to determine a methodology for determining the new rate. A committee substitute for the bill gives the team a July 1 deadline to establish that criteria, but some on the committee argued that’s just not enough time. “I was an economics major. There’s a lot that goes into this, a lot of considerations,” Delegate Justin Marcum, D-Mingo, said. “To put a deadline that I look at as pretty radical, pretty quick, will make it almost impossible to do this data collection and determine the matrix they want to use. “I don’t see any practical way we can have the rates set by July 1 with everything that has to go into this. Read more

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Compromise would modify prevailing wage bill

The Charleston Gazette
2/11/2015
Prevailing wage may prevail after all, as state senators appear close to crafting a compromise that would modify, but not repeal, the state law that sets wage rates for construction workers on many publicly financed construction projects. “We think we have the elements of a deal,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, said Wednesday, after consideration of the bill (SB361) was delayed on the Senate floor for a third straight day. As drafted, the bill would repeal the law that dates back to the Great Depression and sets essentially union-scale wages for construction workers on state and locally funded public works projects. Carmichael admitted Wednesday he was one of several Senate Republicans who came into the session adamant about an outright repeal of the law. Read more