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Two construction bills postponed until 2011

Idaho State Capitol Building

Idaho State Capitol Building

As Idaho’s legislature plows through proposed legislation, trying to avoid a repeat of the record-length session of 2009, time is becoming scarce for new bills to be introduced.

Two bills falling victim to time constraints were being pushed by the Associated Builders and Contractors, a group that fights for the interests of non-union construction companies.

A few days before the anti-union bills were scheduled to be heard by the Senate State Affairs Committee, the bills’ supporters met with Senate leadership and decided that waiting until next year would probably be a better strategy.

Both of the bills being lobbied by ABC sought to eliminate advantages given to contractors that employ union workers in obtaining building contracts.

The first, the Open Access to Work Act, sponsored by Sen. John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene, would have made it illegal for government entities (at the state level or below) to require that a project be done with union-only labor.

The second, the Fairness in Contracting Act, would have made it illegal for unions to offer supplemental funds to building project owners in Idaho in effort to secure jobs for union companies where non-union bids might be lower.

Sen. Monty Pearce, R-New Plymouth, championed the latter bill.

“It was determined that because of time – it was just so late in the legislative session – that rather than trying to hurry the bills and push them through, we would be better off to wait and have a full hearing on their merits and go through the full process next year,” said Kate McCaslin, president and CEO of ABC’s Inland Pacific Chapter.

Lawmakers are targeting March 26 as an end date for the session, and Senate President Pro Tempore Robert Geddes said the goal is reasonable based on the status of current pending legislation and the budget.

He added that March 8 is the target date to have all house bills transmitted to the senate and vice versa, so the number of bills being printed is tapering off.

“If we do end the session at the end of March, we’re reaching the point where a bill just simply doesn’t have time to make it through the process,” he said.

McCaslin said ABC is disappointed by the setback, but plans to be back in full force next year.


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