Despite a setback at the federal level, the drive for taxpayer value on public construction continued at the state level last week with several key states taking important actions.
First, the Louisiana Legislature approved legislation that would ban government-mandated PLAs on all state and local construction in the state. This bill, S.B. 76, received bi-partisan support and is expected to be signed by Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) in short order. This would make Louisiana the ninth state – and the fifth since Jan 2011 – to ban these Big Labor handouts on taxpayer funded projects. This will ensure that the 98 percent of the state’s construction workforce that chooses not to join a labor organization has the opportunity to be awarded projects funded by their own tax dollars.
Lawmakers in Maine also took key steps toward ensuring fair and open competition within their borders last week as well. Both chambers of the Maine Legislature passed L.D. 1257, which would also prohibit government-mandated PLAs on taxpayer funded work. This bill needs one more vote in the Senate on a technical amendment and then it should go to Gov. Paul LePage (R) for his signature.
The biggest news from last week is Pure Michigan. Lawmakers in the Great Lakes State broke the legislative logjam and S.B. 165 is on the move. Last week, it passed the Senate 26-12 and it is likely to pass the House very shortly. This is a huge development for the people of Michigan, where wasteful and discriminatory PLAs and similar handouts to Big Labor are the norm in some places (Here’s looking at you, Ann Arbor). This bill will ensure that Michiganders get value – not special interest handouts – for their tax dollars.
Legislators in these states are taking historic steps to guarantees that taxpayers get the best construction at the best price. They are also sending a strong signal to both the Obama administration and Congress. The American people don’t want to see public construction funneled to Big Labor. Open competition is good for everyone. Public projects should be awarded to the lowest responsible bidder, regardless of their labor affiliation.