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PROPOSED HIRING LAW ON HOLD

The City Council on Monday temporarily halted a proposed law that would require construction firms to hire local residents for big-ticket projects.

In question was the possibility of paying $150,000 to study the hiring practices of construction firms. The council voted 4-2 to delay the vote until Jan. 10. Council members Bill Dudley and Steve Kornell were absent.

In the next six weeks, city lawyers will try to revise the ordinance so that the study of local hiring practices at construction firms isn't needed for the proposed ordinance.

Several council members and residents have questioned what the study would produce.

The law, if later passed, would force construction firms to hire Pinellas County residents for taxpayer-funded projects priced at $2 million or more.

To be eligible, workers would have to live in Pinellas County for at least six months before the start of a project and maintain their residence until the work is completed. Contractors and subcontractors also would have to make good-faith efforts to use apprentices and disadvantaged workers for at least 20 percent of work hours.

The law's supporters believe it will help disadvantaged and minority residents land jobs on projects such as the new $40 million police headquarters and the $50 million Pier project. Critics say the law would reduce competition, produce lower-quality work and drive up prices.

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