Bye-bye Prevailing Wage Law? Repeal Campaign Turns In 390,000 Signatures

Just 252,523 needed to force up or down vote in Legislature

A coalition organized to repeal the state’s prevailing wage law achieved a milestone yesterday when it submitted petitions with more than 390,000 signatures to the state elections bureau. If at least 65 percent of those signatures were deemed to be valid signatures of Michigan voters, the question would then go to the Legislature for a quick up or down vote.

“Nearly 400,000 voters have signed their names on the dotted line to demand that government spend their tax dollars more wisely,” said Chris Fisher, in a news release. Fisher is vice president of Protecting Michigan Taxpayers, the coalition organizing the campaign. He is also president of the Associated Builders and Contractors of Michigan trade group.

“Taxpayers’ message couldn’t be clearer,” Fisher added. “It’s time to repeal the prevailing wage law costing our schools and communities millions.”

Michigan’s prevailing wage law prohibits public schools, the state and local governments from awarding construction contracts to the lowest bidder unless the contractor agrees to pay wages based on union pay scales on the project. It is estimated the prevailing wage law costs Michigan taxpayers $224 million annually.

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The next step will be for the elections bureau to examine the signatures. Just 252,523 validated signatures are needed, far less than the number submitted. Should organizers pass that test, the state Board of Canvassers would be required to qualify the measure as citizen initiated legislation. That means the Legislature would have to take a vote on the measure within 40 days. If lawmakers fail to pass the measure, it would be placed before the voters on the November 2016 statewide ballot.

“Michigan construction workers are now one step closer to full equality in government contracting,” said Vincent Vernuccio, the director of labor policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. “That also means that Michigan taxpayers are now one step closer to real market savings.”

Both the GOP-controlled House and Senate have made repealing the prevailing wage law a priority. Reportedly, the repeal coalition pursued the initiated-law process to avoid a possible gubernatorial veto. Under this process, once either voters or the Legislature approves the repeal the governor has no role, because his signature is not required for it to become law.

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