Each legislative session thousands of bills and amendments are introduced in the Pennsylvania Legislature. Only a fraction become law, and an even smaller portion receive wide media coverage.
These bills impact the lives of people living in Pennsylvania every day.
Each week The Sentinel will highlight one of the bills that has not received widespread attention.
About the bill
Pennsylvania ranks near the top in the nation for aging infrastructure.
As of December, more than 3,500 bridges in the state were rated as structurally deficient, an indication that at least one of the major components of the bridge was showing signs of deterioration, according to PennDOT.
That number is down from more than 6,000 bridges in 2008, and PennDOT has invested more than $350 million in more than 1,000 bridges over the last five years, according to the agency’s website.
Rep. Stephen Bloom, R-Carlisle, has introduced a bill that would waive certain pay requirements for these projects in hopes of expediting the repairs to the state’s bridges.
House Bill 1227 would exempt projects involving the “rehabilitation or repair of a structurally deficient bridge” from Pennsylvania’s prevailing wage act.
Pennsylvania law requires workers on many projects like highway and building construction of $25,000 or more where public funds are used be paid at least a set minimum prevailing wage for their position and industry, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry.
For example, a recent bridge replacement project in Cumberland County undertaken by the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission had a minimum hourly pay starting at roughly $20 for laborers up to more than $48 for pile driver drivers, according to department of labor and industry records.
Bloom stated in a co-sponsorship letter that exempting structurally deficient bridge projects from the prevailing wage requirement would expedite repairs and save money.
“As we engage in the already costly process of upgrading our aging bridge infrastructure, it only makes sense to find ways to control unnecessary taxpayer costs wherever possible,” he wrote.
Bloom’s bill would only affect projects that do not rely on federal funds, which are subject to federal prevailing wage laws.
“Unfortunately, the General Assembly cannot change the unnecessary costly mandates attached to federal dollars,” Bloom wrote in his co-sponsorship letter. “However, we can and should ensure that we are stretching our scarce state taxpayer dollars for high-priority bridge projects wherever we can.”