INDIANAPOLIS (April 15, 2015)– In a 27-22 vote Wednesday, the Indiana State Senate voted to repeal the state’s common construction wage law. Once changes in the Senate version are agreed upon in the House, it will be sent to Gov. Mike Pence, who said he will sign the repeal into law.
“When the Indiana Senate voted today to repeal the common construction wage, they put taxpayers first, providing much-needed relief to cash-strapped local governments and schools,” Pence said in a statement Wednesday afternoon.
The issue has sparked a series of ad wars on TV and brought protestors to the Statehouse.
“I know there’s a lot of controversy with this,” State Sen. Carlin Yoder (R-Middlebury) said. “And there’s been a lot of debate. But the bottom line is this is a bill that allows the free markets to work.”
Lawmakers supporting a repeal said the law, which sets base wages for public construction projects worth more than $350,000, said the change will save taxpayers money.
Opponents fear the cost will dramatically hurt Indiana workers.
“This bill has been offered to attempt to fix some problem,” State Sen. Karen Tallian (D-Portage) said. “I do not agree with the premise. There is no problem.”
Twelve Republican lawmakers joined Democrats in voicing opposition to the repeal.
“I do not think this is good for middle class Indiana,” State Sen. Vaneta Becker (R-Evansville) said. “In fact, I know it’s not good for middle class Indiana.”
State Senate President Pro Tem David Long was seen talking with Republican lawmakers before Wednesday’s final vote, ensure enough votes were still there to repeal the law.
“What the bill does is allow free markets to work,” Yoder said. “And we’ve addressed any concerns.”
A number of union contractors and workers lined the hallway outside the Senate chamber as lawmakers voted.
“We’ll have to wait and see how the markets react to it,” Lora Gandy said, owner of United Air Works. “If we become less competitive and not able to win bids, we’ll have to regroup as union contractors and take a look at the wages we’re paying.”
It still remained clear Wednesday evening whether the House will concur with the Senate’s changes on the floor or send it to a conference committee. A spokesperson for House Speaker Brian Bosma said Republicans are expected to caucus Thursday morning, and that the decision could be made then.