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Proposed Bill Could Abolish Current Missouri Wage Laws

A bill currently being considered by a Missouri House committee could eliminate the state's prevailing wage for public construction projects. Under the current wage system, a base wage is set on an annual basis for a wide range of public works jobs, with workers and employers free to negotiate for higher salaries. The new bill, titled House Bill 1931, aims to scrap the existing program, thereby allowing contractors the right to start salary negotiations at minimum wage instead.

Proponents, led by Rep. Warren Love, R-Osceola, say that the prevailing wage law stifles competition and is unfair to other workers in other trades. Additionally, despite the hypothetical ability for contractors to pay minimum wage, it is highly unlikely that projects would be completed for minimum compensation. The bill's opposition, however, cites that states like Iowa and Kansas, who do not have a prevailing wage law, are among the poorest and least educated states in the nation.

A similar bill was passed in the House in 2013, though it failed a vote in the Senate. Later that year, Gov. Jay Nixon allowed another bit of legislation to become law that altered the way the state's prevailing wage was calculated.

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