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Drafting Error Could Cost Local Governments

A drafting error in a project labor agreement bill may force local governments to use the common construction wage on all public projects for the next six months.

Under current law, public projects valued at $150,000 or less are exempt from having to pay workers the common construction wage – a standard of union pay based on what kind of job a laborer does and how skilled they are at it. The new law raises the threshold to $250,000 in January and $350,000 the next year.

But due to what state Legislative Services Executive Director Jack Ross calls an “oversight,” the $150,000 threshold is eliminated between July and January…meaning all public projects will now fall under the common construction wage. Portland Representative Bill Davis, who authored the legislation, says it shouldn’t have too great an impact.

“You know, I think we’re talking about a very narrow window of time, in the scheme of things, and number two a very narrow scope of projects because we’re talking about those that are less than $150,000 dollars.”

Davis says it is possible some local units of government may wait on projects until after the threshold is reinstated in January.

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