By a vote of 27-22, the Indiana Senate has voted to repeal the state’s common wage construction law.  A move supporters say will let the free market determine wages on public projects, but opponents say it will drive down wages.

HB 1019  would basically eliminate the five-member board that sets wages for public projects that exceed $350,000.  The Senate made a number of changes to the bill including…

  • Requires all contractors to carry liability insurance and be prequalified by the Indiana Department of Administration or the Department of Transportation.
  • Requires contractors with at least 10 employees to offer ongoing training to their workers.
  • Requires general contractors to perform at least 15 percent of their contracted work (measured in dollars) rather than using subcontractors.
  • Requires contractors to participate in the E-Verify program to ensure their workers are legally present in the U.S.
  • Prohibits contractors from paying their workers in cash.
  • Requires contractors to maintain their records for three years after the completion of a government project and to make the records open to inspection by the Department of Workforce Development.

Supporters say the changes will “ensure quality, reputable firms work on taxpayer funded projects.”   However, opponents have argued there was no need for the bill and that it would drive down wages and cost local governments in the long run because the quality of work would diminish.

HB 1019 will now return to the Indiana House of Representatives for concurrence.