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On April 7, Arkansas Gov.Asa Hutchinson signed a bill repealing the state’s prevailing wage law. The legislation, SB 601 (Act 1068), was approved by the Arkansas House of Representatives on March 30 by a vote of 70-24; the Arkansas Senate passed the bill on March 21 by a bipartisan vote of 28-5. Arkansas is now the 22nd state without a prevailing wage and the second state to take significant action on the issue this year. Kentucky signed a prevailing wage repeal bill into law in January. In 2015, Nevada made significant reforms to its prevailing wage law, while Indiana and West Virginia joined the list of states without a prevailing wage. 

“Arkansas lawmakers have made it a priority to create value for taxpayers and opportunities for qualified local contractors deterred by the state's outdated prevailing wage regulations,” said ABC Vice President of Regulatory, Labor and State Affairs Ben Brubeck. “The number of states choosing to do away with costly and archaic prevailing wage requirements continues to grow and ABC looks forward to supporting efforts to repeal or reform inefficient prevailing wage laws in Ohio, nearby Missouri and other states across the country this year.”

ABC released its latest Merit Shop Scorecard rankings in November 2016. The website reviews and grades state-specific policies and information significant to the success of the commercial and industrial construction industry. The scorecard grades states on their policies on prevailing wage and project labor agreement (PLA) mandates and Right to Work status, as well as their construction job growth rate, commitment to developing a well-trained workforce, career and technical education (CTE) opportunities and results, and use of public-private partnerships (P3s). Plagued in part by its prevailing wage, Arkansas’ business environment ranked 20th in the country.

ABC opposes wasteful prevailing wage laws because they contain outdated job restrictions that do not match the needs of today’s competitive construction business environment. Prevailing wage requirements discourage many qualified small and minority-owned contractors from bidding on public projects. State governments’ complex and inefficient wage rate determinations and work restrictions make it difficult for them to compete with better capitalized corporations. Studies have shown that state prevailing wage laws can needlessly inflate construction costs by as much as 38 percent.