Fall Legislative Session Begins

Kristi Pronovost The Merit Shop Advocacy Blog, The Merit Shop Spokesman Blog

By: David G. Greineder, IOM, ABC Keystone Director of Government Affairs

Earlier this month, the Legislature returned to work for their Fall session. The window of opportunity is short, but ABC was paving the way over the summer months to position ourselves nicely. Some items of note are as follows:

E-Verify: House Bill 1170 is headed to the Governor for his signature. This bill would require construction companies to use E-Verify when making new hires. As previously reported, ABC expressed our frustration that the construction industry was singled out and could be the target of costly investigations. During the legislative process, our partners expressed similar concerns, and protections were added to soften the “heavy-hand” of government. Because the bill will not take effect for one year, ABC will use that time to educate and train members on the requirements and consequences for non-compliance. We are resolved to be vigilant, and if we hear the state is going beyond its statutory authority, we will be looking for legislative fixes.

Energize PA: ABC was asked to provide input on a bill that seeks to boost the energy industry without raising taxes or fees. House Bill 1102, introduced by Representative Joshua Kail (R-Beaver), would establish 20 local tax-free zones to encourage reinvestment in pipeline transmission infrastructure. ABC sent a letter to the House Commerce Committee chairs supporting the overall concept and suggesting language that would prohibit the use of project labor agreements (PLAs). As our members know, PLAs force open shop contractors to subject themselves and their employees to a collective bargaining agreement in order to receive the contract. ABC is opposed to the use of PLAs, as it goes against the core fabric of the free enterprise system.

Manufacturing Day: The House adopted House Resolution 474, introduced by Rep. Parke Wentling (R-Mercer), which recognizes October 4, 2019, as “Manufacturing Day” in Pennsylvania. ABC issued a letter of support for the resolution, as the manufacturing industry has created millions of jobs throughout the supply chain and is the source of high wages and benefits for many. ABC will promote the resolution in conjunction with October’s “Careers in Construction Month.”

After September 25, the House and Senate will break until October 21. During this time, ABC will be conducting meetings with House Labor & Industry Committee members in their district offices to discuss the state’s apprenticeship program. We know the committee chair, Representative Jim Cox (R-Berks), is interested in holding a hearing to review legislative options to level the playing field between merit shop ratios (4:1 by law) and union apprenticeship ratios (whatever is provided for in a collective bargaining agreement). As a preface to those proceedings, ABC will be doing all we can to ensure our voice is heard and that committee members understand the disadvantage merit shop contractors face with apprenticeship ratios.

If you are interested in meeting with Legislators in their district office, please contact me at davidg@abckeystone.org for details. Your voice is greatly needed on this topic. If you cannot accommodate a meeting, be on the lookout for future email updates on ways to become engaged. If you are not signed-up to receive email alerts, you can do so at abc.org/abcaction.

September 26, 2019