Republicans in Michigan, Missouri and Wisconsin are waging battles to remove or reform their states’ prevailing wage laws for workers on public projects, while legislators in Indiana, Nevada and West Virginia recently passed reforms. 

In Indiana, the Republican-controlled House Employment, Labor and Pensions Committee voted 8-4 to pass Rep. Jerry Torr’s (R) bill (H.B. 1019) to repeal the 1930s-era prevailing wage law that forces contractors to pay union-scale wages when building schools, roads and other infrastructure projects worth more than $350,000—stating that it artificially inflates wages on public work, increases costs, and makes less money available for repairs and other government services. The Indiana Senate voted 27-22 to repeal the law. 

In Michigan, Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof (R) introduced a bill (S.B. 1) that would repeal the state’s 50-year-old law requiring union wages and benefits for workers on government-funded construction projects. Sens. Peter MacGregor (R) and Dave Robertson (R) sponsored related bills (S.B. 2 and S.B. 3) as part of the package to repeal the law. Republican Reps. Brad Jacobsen, Aric Nesbitt and Amanda Price will sponsor prevailing wage repeal legislation in the House. 

 Four different prevailing wage repeal bills are active in Missouri, sponsored by Reps. Tony Duggar (R), Bill White (R) and Bill Lant (R) and Sen. Dan Brown (R). 

In Wisconsin, Sen. Leah Vukmir (R) filed S.B. 49, with Assembly Bill 32 as its companion in the House; both seek to repeal the prevailing wage. 

In West Virginia, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (D) signed S.B. 361, which reforms the state’s prevailing wage law. The Republican-sponsored measure exempts state-funded projects worth less than $500,000 of public money and changes the method in which prevailing wage rates are determined. Negotiations included representatives from Associated Builders and Contractors, the Contractors Association of West Virginia and the Affiliated Construction Trades. 

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) signed S.B. 119, which exempts K-12 and higher education school construction from state prevailing wage requirements. Nevada is the first state since Ohio in 1997 to eliminate prevailing wage requirements on school construction.