The Indiana House easily approved legislation repealing the state’s common construction wage, and the bill’s support in the Senate looks strong. For the bill’s opponents, pushing it to a summer study committee could be their best hope.
Set by local boards, the common construction wage is a sort of minimum wage for public construction projects.
Pete Rimsans is the executive director of the Indiana State Building and Construction Trades Council, a workers group leading the charge to keep the common wage. He notes that for a practice that’s been around for 80 years, lawmakers haven’t spent much time studying its repeal.
“It’s been bandied about in backrooms but there’s been no real formal vetting of it,” Rimsans said. “And normally the General Assembly’s pretty good about doing that during session or pretty good about doing that in a summer study committee.”
The bill came out of the House Employment, Labor and Pensions Committee.
In the Senate, Republican Leader David Long says the chairman of the Senate Pensions and Labor committee isn’t completely supportive of repealing the common wage this year.
“I don’t think he’s opposed to the bill itself,” Long said. “I think he had been outspoken saying, ‘I would like a summer study committee first,’ which we thought we had last year and it got nixed at the end.”
But Long is bypassing the Labor committee. Instead, the bill will go to Tax and Fiscal Policy, where’s it’s much more likely to come to the floor unchanged.