olson-2009officialreduced1Opening remarks on House File 333, by Rep. Rick  Olson.

We are committed to helping middle class families by rewarding hard work and those who play by the rules. A prevailing wage will reward middle class families who put in the work of rebuilding our state after the historic floods and tornados and help our state rise out of the recession. And this will occur when we develop a healthy, highly-skilled workforce ready for the jobs of the 21st Century. This bill will protect the jobs of local workers by stopping large corporations and construction companies who have in the past, driven down wages by using low-skill laborers and illegal immigrants.

Like we’ve seen in neighboring states, a prevailing wage will be good for middle class families. It will encourage apprenticeship & job training programs to build a healthy highly-skilled workforce ready for today’s jobs in today’s global economy. It will increase wages and expand benefits like health insurance for hard working families while reducing reliance on government programs. It will reduce job injuries and it will save lives.

It will encourage competition for public contracts based on quality of work, efficiency, and safety. It will discourage the “race to the bottom” bidding that rewards out of state contractors who use lower wages and unskilled labor; in fact they exploit unskilled labor.

I know this bill is complex and there is a lot of misinformation out there about this bill, as it concerns what it does and does not do. My purpose is to resolve that misinformation. While there are amendments and changes that will be made to the bill tonight, I want to set the record straight on one key point.

This bill does NOT have any impact on private projects. Iowans won’t need to hire a contractor who pays prevailing wage to get their furnace fixed, their light bulbs changed or those incidental things around their home or business. Small businesses won’t have to pay prevailing wages for construction or renovations. Manufacturers expanding their facilities won’t have to pay a prevailing wage, even if they receive state assistance.

The form of the bill this year is House File 333.The prevailing wage bill has been around for three years. The form has changed through amendment over those three years there has been a certain metamorphosis but it hasn’t changed the true concept that underlies the current bill. You should note, particularly for some of the freshman, a couple of days ago, we had our second public hearing on prevailing wage, our second. The public has had input, there have been subcommittee meetings, in the past and this year, on prevailing wage. The public as well as the lobby has had input.

In essence what the bill does, we all know it, and I am not going to deliberate or talk to you for a long time about what is in the bill specifically. I will answer that by question. But what the bill does. State funded projects or any public improvements that are administered in this state, and this is what the bill does, those contractors that are bidding those jobs will have to pay a prevailing wage rate. As a former colleague of ours Phil Wise would always say, “the devil is in the detail”. And what we should be talking about here shortly is the detail, it’s the detail. With that those are my opening comments and there are amendments.

Click here to listen to audio of the remarks : www.iowahouse.org/HouseAudio/olson-prevailingwage.mp3