House committee sets sights on repealing prevailing wage

Missouri’s prevailing wage law started its path toward the chopping block Tuesday when state House members gave their initial support to a repeal.

The prevailing wage is the minimum wage construction workers must be paid for public works projects. Contractors, public bodies, labor organizations and other stakeholders report the hours worked and wages paid for construction on local projects to the Missouri Department of Labor. The hours and wages are then put through an algorithm that calculates each county’s prevailing wage.

Republicans, rural county governments and school boards contend that the mandated wages prevent rural governments from making important improvements to city buildings such as schools. They argue rural communities receive less revenue than urban counties and often cannot pay the prevailing wage set by the nearby, more populous counties.

Rep. Bill Lant, R-Pineville, testified on behalf of his prevailing wage bill, one of nine proposed in the House.

Democrats, along with contractors and labor organizations, say repealing the law would suppress worker wages and cost the state millions in tax revenue, referencing a study done at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

No vote was held during the hearing. The Committee on Economic Development will meet again to vote on the bills.

Read more: Columbia Missourian

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