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Local contracting bill gets Senate approval

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Cities and counties would not be able to require contractors to provide certain benefits and wages to workers on state-funded public works projects under a bill (HB 599) approved Friday by the Senate in a 20-17 vote.

The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Jayer Williamson, R-Pace, and Sen. Keith Perry, R-Gainesville, would preempt local ordinances mandating wage levels, worker training or minority hiring if the public works projects, such as a road or school building, have 50 percent or more funding from the state.

Perry, who runs a roofing company, said the local mandates hurt businesses and workers.

For instance, he said he has needed to hire local workers in one community and then fire them when he works in another community with a mandate to hire local workers.

Sen. Jeff Clemens, a Lake Worth Democrat who opposed the bill, defended the local mandates noting they help workers in impoverished communities.

"I think that's simply wrong," Clemens said about the move to preempt local ordinances.

The House voted 77-40 for the bill, which now heads to Gov. Rick Scott.