An amended bill would effectively block Metro Nashville City Council’s ongoing efforts to impose stricter regulations on the construction industry. The legislation limited local government from enforcing oversight measures like obtaining employee data, enforcing safety and health standards beyond federal and state requirements, gaining entry to worksites, and obtaining the information of suppliers for labor or materials.
The Senate last passed an amended version of the bill, 27 to 6, on Thursday. The amendments widened the bill’s scope to include remote in addition to prime contractors, and to include bids, proposals, and agreements within what governments couldn’t enforce as oversight tactics.
State Senator Jack Johnson (R-Franklin) explained during the final Senate consideration that the amendment would maintain consistent standards.
“[W]e need to maintain consistency across the state relative to things like personnel matters as required by local government and safety standards,” said Johnson.
State Senator Jeff Yarbro (D-Nashville) suggested that the legislation would be in danger of overcorrecting. He asked what a local government could do, for example, when it can’t ask about personnel qualifications and they’re called to handle dynamite.
“This goes beyond making sure you have uniformity with safety and personnel matters,” stated Yarbro. “It actually goes to things that I think are important protections for our counties.”
Johnson said he disagreed with Yarbro’s interpretation of the bill. He said that people still have to meet certain requirements for licenses, so there would be a safeguard there. Johnson added that municipalities shouldn’t breach businesses’ confidentiality.
Last week, the House passed its version of the bill, 71 to 18.
As The Tennessee Star reported, Metro Council is considering legislation that would require construction businesses to extend direct employment to all temporary workers that are hired onto a Nashville project for at least 30 days. It would also require the businesses to allow for Metro-approved, third-party entities to ensure compliance.
The Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) came out against Metro Council’s legislation. They argued it would hurt local workers by increasing costs and killing job opportunities.
That legislation is on second reading currently, filed early last month. It is on the agenda for Tuesday’s council meeting.
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