A bill that would ban local governments from requiring that companies bidding on public projects enter into project labor agreements is heading to Gov. Scott Walker’s desk after a 64-35 vote in the Assembly.

Dems slammed the bill at today’s session, saying it would hurt the middle class and reduce the quality of completed projects. That included Rep. Gary Hebl, who said lawmakers should be “looking for ways to help Wisconsin workers.”

He also called the bill an “example again of Republicans limiting local control, despite their claims to support it.”

Meanwhile, GOP Rep. Scott Allen countered that PLAs are “unfair” and ultimately “drive up costs for the taxpayers.”

Addressing “those that are married to unions,” Allen said the PLA bill also rights “an issue of fundamental fairness,” in which businesses without unions are at a “distinct” and “unfair disadvantage” compared to those with unions.

That sparked a response from Dem Rep. Christine Sinicki, who said the bill is “not a union issue” but a “workers issue.”

Prior to the vote, bill author Rep. Rob Hutton, R-Brookfield, pointed out the bill doesn’t bar local municipalities from choosing to enter into PLAs, a truth he said Dems overlooked during the debate over the legislation.

“This is pro-Wisconsin, this is pro-worker, this is pro-community and it’s pro-taxpayer,” he said.

Republicans shot down six Dem amendments on the bill.

They included one that would have required the public contractors to be Wisconsin companies, another that would have required a preference for hiring veterans for public contracts and another that would give preference to businesses owned by women or minority-owned businesses.

The amendment that would have given preference to hiring veterans garnered back-and-forth among Dems and Republicans.

Rep. Katrina Shankland, D-Stevens Point, was among the Dems speaking in support of it, telling fellow lawmakers that “if you don’t support this amendment, you don’t support veterans.”

But Rep. Tom Weatherston, R-Caledonia, pushed back, saying the amendment “does absolutely nothing to get veterans jobs.”

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