The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, May 29, 2015

News Briefs

By The Building Tradesman

New hurdle for prevailing wage? 

LANSING - The anti-prevailing wage crowd has a backup plan in case repeal of the law is rejected by the state House, or vetoed by Gov. Rick Snyder.

>A rarely used clause in the Michigan Constitution allows groups to use the power of a petition drive to create citizen-initiated legislation. Under the law, and under plans which are apparently in the works, if the state Board of Canvassers OKs the petition language for circulation, prevailing wage repeal advocates would have 180 days to collect 250,000 signatures which would put repeal legislation before the Legislature. State lawmakers would then have 40 days to act on the bill or let it go to a ballot issue. Gov. Rich Snyder would play no role in the legislation.

According to MLive and the MIRS News Service, the effort by "Protect Michigan Taxpayers" has already produced petition language for review by the Secretary of State's office. It is believed that the Michigan Freedom Fund, which pushed right-to-work in Michigan in 2012, will help move this petition drive along as well.

"This is about advancing citizen legislation and bringing forth solid policy that protects taxpayers and protects Michigan jobs," said Chris Fisher, President of the Associated Builders and Contractors of Michigan to MLive.

Right To Life of Michigan used such a petition drive successfully in 2013 to circumvent a veto by Snyder of controversial abortion insurance legislation.

Drivers, passengers at risk in work zones 

Forty-six percent of highway contractors reported that motor vehicles had crashed into their construction work zones during the past year, according to the results of a highway work zone study released May 20 by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials urged summer travel motorists to stay alert while driving through work zones, noting that drivers and passengers are more likely than highway workers to be hurt or killed in work zone accidents.

"If the thought of saving someone else's life isn't enough to get you to slow down, just remember that you and your passengers are more likely to suffer in a highway work zone crash than anyone else," said Tom Foss, president of Brea, Calif.-based Griffith Co. and the chairman of the association's Highway and Transportation Division. "In most work zones, there just isn't enough margin for error for anyone to speed through or lose focus."

The survey was based on replies from more than 800 contractors. Foss said that 41 percent of contractors reported that motor vehicle operators or passengers were injured during work zone crashes this past year, and 16 percent of those crashes involved a drive or passenger fatality. Highway work zone crashes also pose a significant risk for construction workers. He said 16 percent of work zone crashes injure construction workers and 9 percent of those crashes kill them.

Foss suggested that the best way to improve safety was for motorists to be more careful while driving through highway work zones. "With the summer travel seasons starting this weekend, our message to every motorist is this: when you see construction signs and orange barrels, take your foot off the gas, put the phone down and keep your eyes on the road," Foss said.