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For those who missed it …

Tuesday, September 23, 2014 by Elizabeth Pagano

The Workers Defense Project weighed in on our living wage story Monday after its publication. A representative for the group offered this statement via email: “Our reading is that the 1999 Cornyn opinion only applies to school districts and other political subdivisions of the state. It does not apply to home-rule cities like Austin. As stated in the opinion ‘School districts, like other political subdivisions of the state, other than home-rule cities, have only those powers expressly conferred on them by the constitution or by statute or those necessarily implied from the powers conferred.’ (emphasis added). As a home-rule city, Austin, unlike school districts or counties, is not limited to act solely within the confines of state law. It has the authority to act above and beyond what is expressly written in state statute or the state constitution. Therefore, the fact that section 2258 ‘does not authorize’ a political subdivision ‘to require a contractor pay a wage greater than the local prevailing wage’ would not prohibit the City of Austin from establishing a living wage floor for contracted construction workers. The pending Dallas County opinion may of course flesh out the authority of political subdivisions to supplement prevailing wages with a living wage floor on public projects, but the authority of counties to take such action ought not be conflated with the authority of home-rule cities to do so.” The original story has been updated to include this information.


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