OR 'Buy America' Bill Could Boost Iron, Steel Industries
Tuesday, April 4, 2023
Oregon lawmakers could bring more iron and steel manufacturing stateside. Building on requirements to buy from American manufacturers in last year's infrastructure law, Oregon legislation would require iron and steel from the United States for public construction projects.
Lorne Bulling, political coordinator for Ironworkers Local 29 in Oregon said the measure will cut down on the amount imported iron and steel coming into the country.
"We really see this as a coalition between labor and environmental groups as we fight for American jobs and a better focus on American and domestic manufacturing," Bulling said.
Opponents of the measure say it will lead to higher costs for public projects. House Bill 3332 has bipartisan sponsors in Salem. It passed out of the House Committee on Business and Labor and is currently in the Ways and Means Committee.
Ron Rodgers, Sub-District 3 director of United Steelworkers District 12, which covers the Northwest, said a measure such as House Bill 3332 would have helped local steel facilities on recent projects, such as a highway bypass near Newberg.
"We could have saved a lot of money on transportation costs," he explained. "The tax dollars would have stayed in the Oregon economy versus importing steel from out of country where we get no tax dollar benefit from the workers whatsoever. And, frankly, it was made a lot cleaner than any processes you're going to see out of China or other imported steel countries."
Ranfis Villatoro, Oregon policy manager for the Blue-Green Alliance, said this legislation compliments the infrastructure law's incentives for buying U.S. made goods.
"By passing 'buy America' legislation now in Oregon, we're taking advantage of and leveraging historical investments and saying, 'Hey, we as Oregon want to be a leader in manufacturing and we're going to also leverage our public spending to align with this historical investment to shore up manufacturing,' " he said.
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