By Steve Hymon, June 10, 2014
The amendment was authored by Rep. Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles). It’s still not the law of the land, but is significant. The issue is that receiving federal funding for projects comes with strings attached in terms of restrictions on local hiring preferences.
Here is the news release from her office:
WASHINGTON–The U.S. House of Representatives today passed legislation today authored by Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-Calif.) that would allow local transit agencies like Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority to prioritize hiring local residents for highway and transit projects. The amendment was adopted as part of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill.
Currently, federal regulations bar transit agencies that receive any federal assistance from implementing local hire policies for construction and operations projects. If signed into law, state and local transit agencies will also have the flexibility to focus their hiring in low-income and underemployed neighborhoods by applying geographically targeted preferences.
“Chambers of commerce, local government officials and economists all agree that allowing transit agencies to adopt local hire policies just makes sense,” said Rep. Bass. “Local taxpayers are funding the majority of transit projects, like the Crenshaw-LAX Lightrail Line. This policy will ensure that local tax dollars are creating local jobs in the communities that need them the most.”
“Metro is extremely appreciative of Representative Karen Bass for championing this amendment. This amendment would allow transportation agencies, like Metro, to establish local hire programs to build transportation projects with significant non-federal funding, to help create jobs by incentivizing the development of non-federal projects by leveraging the federal investment,” said Arthur T. Leahy, Chief Executive Officer of Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. “With Los Angeles County voters repeatedly voting to direct a portion of their local sales taxes to be used for transportation projects, Metro would welcome the ability to establish local hire programs on partial federally funded projects to build a better, stronger and more mobile Los Angeles. We also believe that passage of this amendment will incentivize other metropolitan areas in the country to follow Los Angeles County’s self-help transportation model, a model that is bringing mobility and tens of thousands of good-paying jobs to our region.”
Currently, federal regulations bar transit agencies that receive any federal assistance from implementing local hire policies for construction and operations projects. As the economy continues its recovery, transit agencies have the potential to spur job creation in their local communities. Limiting these transit agencies from being able to adopt local hiring policies when making hiring decisions hinders their ability to generate job growth, which is detrimental to local economies across the United States.
In his 2015 Budget, President Barack Obama proposed changing this policy to allow for local hiring practices by transit agencies.