SANTA FE ― The House of Representatives passed a bill to exempt public school and road projects from current prevailing wage requirements. The bill, House Bill 200, is sponsored by Rep. Nora Espinosa and passed by a 35 to 32 vote.
“This bill will make more money available in the budget for actual construction costs,” Espinosa said. “It will allow the state and school districts to build more classrooms and miles of highway.”
Last June, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruling ordered the State to set prevailing wage and fringe-benefit rates based solely on collective bargaining agreements rather than including wage surveys or other information. The decision caused labor costs for all public construction projects to increase significantly.
Espinosa’s bill directs the Labor Relations Division of the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions to conduct a field survey and collect other information and set prevailing and fringe benefit rates based on that review. The bill would also cap prevailing wage and fringe benefit rates Federal Davis-Bacon Act rates. Finally, it would exempt all projects and contracts for public roads, public highways and educational facilities from the Public Works Minimum Wage Act.
“Exempting school construction projects from the directive issued by the New Mexico Supreme Court is the right thing to do for New Mexico’s students,” Espinosa said. “I hope the Senate will act on this important piece of legislation.”