Bill to eliminate 'Prevailing Wage Law' dies in committee

The 'Prevailing Wage Law' in Arkansas sets the rate construction workers will be paid for public projects. Neighboring states like Louisiana and Mississippi have done away with comparable laws, and some argued Arkansas should do the same to save local government money.{}{} House Bill 1151 would have eliminated the law in the state. Thursday, people on both sides of the issue packed the committee room today to have their voices heard, putting jeans and boots right next to ties and suits."To a construction worker this is a subject that is very important to them," said Dennis Dounahou of the Carpenter's Union. "A project is being built with competitive wages that's also good wages, so the worker doesn't have to worry about the drive to the bottom to have the lowest wages to get that job."Benton County Judge Bob Clinard has been a contractor his whole working life, but he found himself on the opposite side of the hard hat when he learned a winning bid for some dry-wall was going to cost the county $41,000.{}{}{} {}"I called the contractor and said that's just too high. He was the low bidder. He said well, $6,000 of my bid is for prevailing wage," said Clinard.That's when the judge changed his mind. He estimates the county has been over-charged $100,000 because of this law. He also believes the jobs take longer."It's human nature that these jobs take a little longer. When they're getting paid more. they don't want to go back to their job," said Clinard.{}However, in the end, the bill died in committee. Representative Greg Leding was one of the legislators that voted no."We might be paying more, but that's also dollars that are going to families in their area, and we've got to do what we can to help them," said Rep. Leding.