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State Legislature gets rid of prevailing wage

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After multiple attempts, Michigan’s prevailing wage law is now eliminated. The Legislature passed a voter-initiated measure today to get rid of the law. It requires state construction contracts to pay union-scale wages.

The Republican-controlled Legislature has tried in the past to get rid of the law. But the efforts didn’t go anywhere because they knew Governor Rick Snyder would likely veto any repeal bill. Snyder cannot veto a voter-initiated law.

Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-Grand Haven, says this is a win for taxpayers.

“Anytime that the government mandates a wage for something, it isn’t necessarily going to be the best wage," he said. "The market will find the right level of payment for folks for the job that’s being performed.”

Supporters of prevailing wage say without it, workers will leave and the state already has a skilled trades shortage.

Union members and skilled trade workers gathered at the Capitol to oppose the vote. Tom Lutz is with the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters. He says everyone in the skilled trades should be worried about being paid less – not just union members.

“It will and has effected in the surrounding states, every construction worker,” he said.

Opponents of prevailing wage say it added unnecessary cost for taxpayers.

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
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