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Common Construction Wage Repeal Clears Indiana Senate

The state's 80-year-old common construction wage establishes a kind of minimum wage for public construction projects.

The Senate Wednesday narrowly approved a bill eliminating the state’s common construction wage.

Senators spent more than three hours over the past two days debating the issue of repealing Indiana’s minimum wage for construction workers on public projects.

Opponents of the bill such as Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Portage, note the common wage helps support job training programs and ensures public projects are properly built by well-trained, highly paid workers.

“How do we expect to attract this great workforce when, by actions like this, we’re going to cut their wages and say, ‘Forget it, you don’t need to come to Indiana.’?” she asks.

Sen. Carlin Yoder, R-Middlebury, the bill’s sponsor, says concerns like that are why the Senate added provisions that include required job training and a ban on paying employees in cash.

“We’ve also addressed issues such as E-Verify and other areas so that we can ensure that Hoosiers have first crack at these jobs and that all people who are on these jobs are legal and are doing the right thing,” Yoder says.

The bill cleared the Senate by a vote of 27-22. In a press release, Gov. Mike Pence applauded the Senate’s vote.

The bill now heads back to the House, which can agree to the Senate’s changes or take the measure to conference committee.

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