Two bills making their way through the Pennsylvania General Assembly seek to change how prevailing wage issues are handled in the Commonwealth.
House Bill 709, co-sponsored by State Rep. Kathy Rapp (R-Warren), seeks to shield school districts from being required to pay prevailing wage rates for projects undertaken by themselves or any authority, agency or instrumentality established by them.
Districts could opt to classify themselves as a "public body" for purposes of the law and would then be subject to prevailing wage requirements.
House Bill 1329 seeks to raise the threshold of project cost at which prevailing wage must be paid.
Under current prevailing wage requirements in Pennsylvania, any public work project costing more than $25,000 being undertaken by a public body in the state must pay prevailing wage rates for the area in which it is being completed.
Under the new legislation, which the legislature failed to garner enough votes to pass last month, the minimum cost of a project which required payment of prevailing wages would be raised to $185,000.
The bill adds a clause forbidding the intentional division of a construction project into multiple parts in an effort to circumvent the law.
At the Warren County Council of Governments (COG) meeting on Oct. 3, Glade Township Supervisor Joe Scully urged COG members to call local legislators and support the change.
"It would definitely work to the advantage of the municipalities because right now they're limited to projects under $25,000." Warren County Planning and Zoning Director Dan Glotz said. "That would result in significant savings for the municipalities."
The Pennsylvania House of Representatives removed Bill 1329 from the table last month after failing to garner enough votes to pass it.
A public body is defined as, "...the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, any of its political subdivisions, any authority created by the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and any instrumentality or agency of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania."
Prevailing wage is determined by Department of Labor and Industry based on wage averages for a given profession in the county where a project is to take place. A September prevailing wage assessment for a project in Warren County assessed an hourly rate of $23.20 for, "carpenters, drywall hangers, framers, instrument men, lathers and soft floor layers."
Prevailing wage rates assessed for recent projects can be reviewed by visiting the Department of Labor and Industry's prevailing wage project website.