Source: Sherman Publications

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Jacobsen discusses views on new legislation

by Gabriel L. Ouzounian

March 16, 2011

In November 2010, Orion business owner and Oxford resident Bradford Jacobsen was elected to state senate as a representative for district 46.

Now, four months later, he remains convicted to the principles he ran under during his campaign, but with all the new legislation that has risen in recent months, he's had to take a stand on issues not present during his election run.

Jacobsen began by discussing the Prevailing Wage Bill that is currently being disputed in Michigan Legislature. Prevailing Wage legislation are laws that, in this case, requires buildings using state funds for projects to pay a standard wage to labors for that project. Jacobsen described the laws as having a "pay a painter $35 even if non-unionized workers are willing to do the work for less."

"Say there's a union contract at the Orion Plant for a painter, and a contract for a painter at the Palace of Auburn Hills," said Jacobsen. "The Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth would take their two contracts and say 'painters in Oakland County get paid $35 dollars and hour.

"When a school needs painters' services, they pay the same rates."

Jacobsen said only 22 percent of laborers in Michigan are unionized and privy to prevailing wage legislation, while the remainder would be willing to do said job for less.

Comparing the current state of the legislation to Ohio, who has "done away with prevailing wages," Jacobsen said the state has managed to save $479 million in five years.

"We have a similar bill submitted right now, but it's not yet come up for hearing," said Jacobsen. "I'm hoping it will come up in the next few weeks, because it could end up saving schools 10 to 15 percent on required projects.

Jacobsen also spoke about the recently passed ergonomics bill, and how it helps to limit government control over businesses in Michigan.

"The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Association had been, at the time, working on a list of regulations for businesses," said Jacobsen. "It would create another whole layer of bureaucracy for these businesses, and the piece of legislation we passed prevented them from implementing any laws that would require schools and businesses to install ergonomically items.

"When I say ergonomically, I mean items like the kneeling computer stool."

Concerning House Bill 4036, a piece of law that has to do with competitive bidding for services in school districts, Jacobsen compared going for the lowest bidder to buying a cheap tire.

"Initially, when it came out, I knew our local schools were working hard to solve some of the budget problems," said Jacobsen. "The bill originally called for food service, transportation, and custodial work to be competitively bid out. Schools would have to do this, and would be forced to take the lowest bidder.

"Well, you can go out and buy a cheap tire, and you'll save some money, but do you want your kids riding on that tire?"

He said he had been visiting food service vendors that currently provide for Orion and Oxford school districts, and came away impressed. He added that they were being run well and had managed to go under budget for what they were providing.

Jacobsen will be up for reelection in 2012.