This is an important issue because local transit agencies are currently prohibited from creating local hiring programs when using federal funds for projects. The rationale has been that all Americans should have access to jobs created with national funding, but the policy fails to take into account that most of the funding for most projects these days is raised locally.
Here is the update from Metro’s government relations team:
Earlier today, Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-37) moved to introduce legislation that will allow transportation agencies “to prioritize hiring local residents for highway and transit projects.”
According to a press release issued by the Congresswoman’s office, the legislation, entitled the “Local Hire Act” will make it easier to “generate jobs in the very counties and states where their transportation projects are located, while preserving competition and cost effectiveness.”
In September of 2011 our Board voted to add an additional component to our America Fast Forward initiative to permit transportation agencies to establish local hiring programs in proportion to the local share of a given project(s) total cost. Currently, federal procurement regulations do not permit agencies, like Metro, to require bidders to establish local hiring or purchasing programs or to take such programs and local hiring directly into account in the bid evaluation process.
The historical rationale for this prohibition is that the federal gas tax (18.4 cents per gallon) is collected from around the Nation and therefore all individuals and companies in the U.S. should have access to any given project. We believe the current federal procurement regulation does not take into account the new reality of how transportation projects are financed, which today, is often through a majority of funds being derived from local dollars.
In response to the “Local Hire Act” being introduced, our Board Chair Diane DuBois remarked, “This change in federal hiring regulations would be especially important now given the high rate of unemployment in California and Los Angeles County specifically, where the unemployment rate is hovering over 10 percent. On behalf of Metro, I express my appreciation to Representative Bass for taking a leading role on this important issue.”
The Local Hire Act is currently being supported by the following Members of Congress: U.S. Representatives Henry Waxman (D-CA), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Janice Hahn (D-CA), and Tim Bishop (D-NY). We express our appreciation to Congresswoman Bass for championing this very important issue and look forward to ensuring that this bill is adopted into law during the current 113th Congress.