Prevailing Wage Repeal: Senate Hearing and Vote Scheduled for Next Week

State Senator Steve Nass (R-Whitewater), chair of the Senate Committee on Labor and Government Reform has scheduled a public hearing next Tuesday (May 5) at 8:30 a.m. on Senate Bill 49, which would repeal the state’s prevailing wage law for public (including school) building projects.  Senator Nass has also scheduled a vote on the bill next Thursday (May 7).

Under current law Wisconsin school boards (and other local government units) planning to undertake building projects must apply to the state Dept. of Workforce Development (DWD) for a determination of the prevailing wage rate for each trade or occupation required by the project before soliciting bids or entering into contracts for the building project.  DWD determines the prevailing wage rates and informs the school board within 30 days.  This law applies to single trade projects of $48,000 or more and to multiple-trade projects of $100,000 or more.

Repealing the law or exempting school construction projects from this law’s requirements would remove “red tape” and simplify the construction bidding process for school boards.  It may also encourage more local bidders by removing prevailing-wage-related record-keeping requirements on contractors. Often, local contractors are reluctant to bid on projects subject to the prevailing wage law because they believe the record-keeping requirements are burdensome or fear they may become subject to an audit of their employee payrolls.

Bills to repeal Wisconsin’s prevailing wage law have been introduced in both houses (Assembly Bill 32 and Senate Bill 49).  The WASB is on record in support of these bills.