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Indiana Senate Nixes Common Construction Wage

Kyle May

The Senate Wednesday narrowly approved a bill eliminating the state’s common construction wage after senators spent more than three hours over the past two days debating the issue of repealing Indiana’s minimum wage for construction workers on public projects.

Opponents of the bill such as Sen. Karen Tallian (D-Portage) note that the common wage helps support job training programs and ensures public projects are properly built by well-trained, highly paid workers.

“So how do we expect to attract this great workforce when, by actions like this, we’re going to cut their wages and say, ‘Forget it, you don’t need to come to Indiana,’” Tallian says.

Sen. Carlin Yoder (R-Middlebury), the bill’s sponsor, says concerns like that are why the Senate added provisions that include required job training and a ban on paying employees in cash.

“We’ve also addressed issues such as E-Verify and other areas so that we can ensure that Hoosiers have first crack at these jobs and that all people who are on these jobs are legal and are doing the right thing.”

The bill cleared the Senate by a vote of 27-22.  It now heads back to the House, which can agree to the Senate’s changes or take the measure to conference committee. 

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.