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Sen. Mooney wants state's prevailing wage law repealed

January 29, 2001

Sen. Mooney wants state's prevailing wage law repealed



By LAURA ERNDE / Staff Writer


ANNAPOLIS - Sen. Alex X. Mooney is leading a fight to repeal the state's prevailing wage law.

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The law, passed by the Maryland General Assembly last year, requires contractors on school construction projects to pay workers a set wage, based on average wages in the region.

Mooney and other opponents of the law argue that the initiative prompted by Gov. Parris Glendening will drive up construction costs.

"Prevailing wage is simply terrible public policy. It was a special interest payoff from the governor. It's clearly anti-education," said Mooney, R-Frederick/Washington.

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The Washington County delegation to the Maryland General Assembly opposed the bill last year. Its only local supporter was Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington.

State education officials are in the process of calculating the impact of the prevailing wage on school construction costs, said Yale Stenzler, head of school construction at the state's Interagency Committee on School Construction.

In August, the cost of improvements at Williamsport Elementary School increased by $1.8 million, but Stenzler did not blame the prevailing wage law that had just gone into effect.

A tight labor market and the need for an extra 4,400 square feet at the school pushed up the cost to $9.1 million.

Mooney's bill isn't expected to go far in the heavily Democratic state Senate. No Democrats have signed on in support of the repeal.

Mooney tried to force the law to statewide referendum last summer, but failed to get enough signatures in a petition drive.

"Sen. Mooney is wasting his time. He should have learned the first time he tried to repeal the prevailing wage law with a failed petition drive," said Glendening spokeswoman Michelle Byrnie. "He should find something more productive to do with his time, like support the governor's sexual orientation anti-discrimination effort."

Mooney's committee, the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, killed the gay rights bill two years ago.

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