Last week was another busy week at the Kansas Legislature
On Wednesday, March 22, the Senate Transportation Committee worked HB 2095. HB 2095 would increase semi-truck weight limits that are allowed to drive on Kansas highways. HB 2095 would allow semi-trucks to weigh up to 90,000 pounds. There was an amendment offered that requires a vehicle with the permit authorized by the bill and operating in excess of 85,500 pounds to carry only agriculture related products. The amendment was accepted. This bill now goes to the Senate floor where it will be debated and voted on.
On Thursday, March 23, Legislators in the House had the opportunity to support American workers and ensure that workers are paid a prevailing wage on public construction projects. There was first an amendment on HB 2356 carried by Representative Frownfelter. The Frownfelter amendment would ensure that any iron, steel, & other manufactured goods used or supplied in a state contract would have to be manufactured in US. His amendment is pro-American jobs and ensures that jobs would stay in America. Unfortunately Representative Frownfelter’s amendment failed 44-76 with 5 members of the Kansas House not voting.
Representative Curtis also offered an amendment to HB 2356. The Curtis amendment would allow local governments to use the prevailing wage on public construction projects. When speaking about her amendment Representative Curtis stated that, “We need to ensure workers are being paid wages that can provide for their families.” We couldn’t agree more. This amendment would give the power of local control back to city and county governments. The government that governs best is one that is closest to the people. Local governments, and their locally elected officials, are the closest governing entity to their communities. They understand the issues of importance to their citizens and their community. Allowing local elected officials to make decisions in the best interests of their communities is essential to their local economy, workforce and communities. Opponents to the amendment seemed confused about what a prevailing wage does and were just flat out wrong about the facts. Representative Houser incorrectly stated that prevailing wage drives costs up. A UMKC study found repealing prevailing wage didn’t drive costs down. The study found that, “The repeal of the prevailing wage statutes in Kansas did not decrease total construction costs as claimed by proponents.” Unfortunately when the amendment came up for a vote it failed 42-80 and 3 not voting. However, the fight for the prevailing wage was not over.
On Thursday afternoon in the House Commerce committee, Representative Stogsdill offered an amendment on SB 55. His amendment would allow local governments to require prevailing wage on construction projects. The amendment would allow local governments decide whether they want to use prevailing wage or not. Unfortunately the Stogsdill amendment failed. Representative Luiz then offered an amendment that would allow Wyandotte County to restore prevailing wage requirement on public construction projects. This amendment also failed.
What happened last week at the Legislature was a slap in the face to all Kansas workers. The Legislature had several opportunities to ensure that workers are paid a fair wage and jobs are kept in America. Their failure to pass these common sense policies is shameful.
We will keep you updated.