House committee votes to repeal Indiana’s common construction wage law

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The latest debate inside the Indiana Statehouse focuses on Indiana’s common construction wage law.

After more than four hours of testimony Tuesday, along party lines the House Employment, Labor and Pensions committee voted to repeal it, setting the stage for a fierce debate in the House and Senate chambers.

“The devil is always in the detail,” Bill Meyer said, a Ft. Wayne contractor.

Indiana’s common wage law for public construction projects has been in place since 1935.

Supporters of the bill argue repealing the archaic law will save Indiana taxpayers millions of dollars.

“This is a bill that says government mandated wages simply don’t make sense,” Matt Bell said, with the Regional Chamber of Northeast Indiana.

But dozens of pro-union contractors testified a repeal of the law would severely hurt the state’s economy, including worsening worker shortages.

“We’re seeing shortages right now,” Phil Kenney said, with F.A. Wilhelm Construction. “We can’t get a brick layer for instances in South Bend, so it’s hitting our state right now.”

Adding to the somewhat surprising, and most recent battle inside the Statehouse this session, Gov. Mike Pence quickly joined the fray Tuesday, saying at an afternoon briefing he’d absolutely sign the bill into law.

“Hoosiers deserve to know that this common sense reform would significantly lessen the cost of construction for our local schools and our local governments,” Pence said. “And if it makes it to my desk, I’ll sign it.”

Previous attempts to repeal the law have failed.

This latest push now moves to the House floor.

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