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Delaware Bill Would Set New Standards for Veteran, Local Hiring on State-Funded Projects

Delaware Sen. Hall-Long, veteran hiring advocate

Delaware Sen. Hall-Long, veteran hiring advocate

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A proposed bill in the Delaware legislature would require the hiring of local workers and veterans on state construction projects.  The Veteran, Skilled Workers, and Community Workforce Act would set two new requirements on public works projects: that 30 percent of the workforce must come from the district in which the project is located; and that 5 percent of the workforce for the project must be made up of eligible military veterans.  The bill would also require projects to be governed by Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) in coordination with the Delaware Building and Construction Trades Council.

The bill was sponsored by Sen. Bethany Hall-Long (D-Middletown), who said:

“House Bill 283 seeks to make sure our state’s blue-collar workers aren’t forgotten in our economic development efforts.  Delaware has an incredibly skilled labor force – many of whom are veterans – and we have a responsibility to do everything we can to help connect them to public works jobs that pay well and benefit our state.”

Sen. Hall-Long believes the bill will pass given the bipartisan precedent set by the Delaware Competes Act and the imminent approval of the Delaware Commitment to Innovation Act. Both bills lowered taxes for companies that create jobs and spur innovation in Delaware.  

There are currently 25 Democrats in the state assembly, 20 of whom have signed on as co-sponsors for Hall-Long’s bill.  In the Senate there are 12 Democrats, 7 of whom have signed on as well.  Opposition is expected from some members of the GOP who receive donations from the anti-worker Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), an organization that predictably opposes to the bill.  Speaking to Delaware Online, ABC President Ed Capadanno said:

Delaware should be an open, competitive state where contracts are going to the lowest responsible bidder.   The legislation does not allow our members and our employees to work on projects that their taxes paid to build. It’s anticompetitive.”

Avoiding fly-by-night contractors and out-of-state workers is not a top priority of the ABC, which does not hold its member contractors to the safety and hiring standards that this bill and its associated PLAs aim to meet.


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