McCarthy’s take on prevailing wage bill

In the closing minutes of IPTV's "Iowa Press" program last night, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (D-Des Moines) offered this explanation for why it's been difficult to get the "prevailing wage" bill and other labor-related bills passed in the Iowa General Assembly.

I posed this question on the show: "You tried to get your colleagues to pass a prevailing wage bill which is law in five of the six surrounding states.  What is it about the Iowa culture that prevented you from doing that?"

This is McCarthy's answer:  "Again, there's still a possibility that we could pass that or other pieces of leigslation.  Iowa, I think, is pretty slow to change.  You know, we have the vast majority of this country moving in favor of smoke-free places.  We passed our bill in Iowa and the response here has been a lot more controversial than I would have guessed.  I think we're slow to change. 

"Unions in Iowa are not a huge presence in Iowa in terms of the work force. About 11 percent of the work force is unionized and I think we're slow to change.

"And we are also, I think, a bona fide purple state. Yes, we've increased our party registrations in Iowa, but we are a battleground, purple state and if you start moving too far in one direction or the other, I think Iowans — there's a natural tension there that you've got to work through and I think that's why you've got to convince people. 

"Prevailing wage is a pretty easy bill, from my perspective, to convince people.  I visited with my local school board member.  She's for the bill because she says it will help root out shoddy contractors.  Our superintendent said she was fine with the bill.  Our City of Des Moines was not registered against the bill and so I think the bill that we have is a pretty well-crafted, reasonable bill, but it takes a while to get people there and that's the discussion we're going to continue to have over the next few weeks."

If you want to watch the show, here's the video.

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.