Prevailing Wage Is the Next Big Labor Reform Issue

Date: February 15, 2017

Gov. Eric Greitens and the Missouri Legislature have wasted no time delivering on the reform and pro-business agenda items they campaigned on. On one of his first days in office, Gov. Greitens signed an executive order that instituted an immediate freeze on all regulations and directed every state agency to do a complete overview of all regulations currently on the books. The House then passed the two tort reform bills—collateral source and expert witness—that were passed last year, but failed to override then-Gov. Nixon’s veto. The long-awaited right-to-work legislation was signed by the governor earlier this month.

One of the next big issues on the horizon? Prevailing wage.

Currently, Missouri’s prevailing wage law essentially establishes a minimum wage rate for those who work on public works construction projects, like bridges, government buildings, and roads. It’s established based on the results of wage surveys completed by labor unions, commercial contractors, and public entities. This can end up meaning that wage rates in some areas are inflated. Changing the prevailing wage system can help boost competition for public works projects as well as lower costs for taxpayers.

It’s unclear at this point which approach will be taken to address the prevailing wage. The House Economic Development Committee recently heard 10 bills on the topic. Some aimed to ban prevailing wage on public projects, others sought to apply it only to jobs of a certain dollar amount, and others proposed limiting it to third and fourth class counties. Another proposed eliminating the prevailing wage altogether. A bill will no doubt come out of committee, and the debate on the floor is likely to be spirited.


Related Content: Small Business News | Economy | Missouri

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