AUGUSTA—Legislation from Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, to require the use of responsible contracting in all public works projects received a public hearing before the Legislature’s Labor and Housing Committee on Wednesday. The bill – LD 1639, “An Act To Require Comprehensive Responsible Contracting Practices for Public Construction Projects” – would ensure all public works contracts go to reputable firms that pay workers prevailing wages, provide safe working conditions, are in good standing with state licensing boards and have a track record of quality, efficient work.
“There is no reason we should allow the use of irresponsible contractors when it comes to public projects. Public dollars are better spent on companies that not only treat their workers right but produce good work, on time and within budget,” said President Jackson. “This bill is what’s good for workers, businesses, taxpayers and the entire state.”
This bill comes amid Department of Transportation contracts running over budget and experiencing outrageous bids. It would also reform the way the Department of Labor calculates prevailing wages to better reflect compensation in the industry. Under current law, the prevailing wage is based on information gathered in a mandatory survey of construction companies conducted by DOL. However, too many companies do not complete the survey and instead pay a small fine of $50. LD 1639 would increase an escalating fine starting at $250 for failure to participate in the survey. The idea is that the increase will motivate companies to participate in the survey and result in a more accurate prevailing wage.
The proposal creates an apprenticeship program to fill gaps in the workforce and develop the next generation of responsible contractors.
LD 1639 will face additional work sessions in committee.