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Lansing — A petition to push the Legislature into repealing Michigan’s 50-year-old prevailing wage law passed muster with the Board of State Canvassers Tuesday in Lansing.

Protecting Michigan Taxpayers, the group backing the petition effort, has 180 days to collect more than 250,000 petition signatures required for citizen-initiated legislation. The board approved the language that appears on the petition.

“We look forward to collecting signatures to insure a legislative vote by the end of year,” Chris Fisher, president of the Associated Builders and Contractors, said Tuesday.

Michigan’s 1965 prevailing wage law requires that union-scale wages be paid on state or school district construction projects. Gov. Rick Snyder has vowed opposition but hasn’t promised a veto.

Unions say prevailing wage laws improve the quality of workmanship on public projects by setting wages high enough to attract highly trained, experienced workers. Opponents argue the law makes Michigan less competitive, and note that Michigan is one of just six states with prevailing wage laws.

The petition is backed by a coterie of power players from the Michigan Chamber of Commerce to Las Vegas casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson. It’s the same group that raised $18 million to defeat a 2012 union-backed ballot effort to prevent eventual passage of Michigan’s right-to-work law. Voters rejected the measure, emboldening the GOP-controlled Legislature to hastily pass right-to-work during their lame-duck session.

Citizen-initiated proposals are veto-proof and become law as soon as they Legislature approves them. They don’t require the signature of the governor.

A group that wants to legalize marijuana decided Tuesday against presenting their petition language for approval, but may return.

KBouffard@detroitnews.com

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