A 2007 controller's investigation determined that the city was losing between $2.1 million and $7.4 million in wage taxes, he said.
Kenney described developers around Temple University's campus who were putting on roofs with illegal labor in the middle of the night and moving student tenants into housing before fire-suppression systems were activated.
"Those are serious safety issues we need to deal with," he said. "And, on top of that, I want my tax money."
The bill comes on the heels of a high-profile showdown between union protesters and developers Michael and Matthew Pestronk, who are using a mix of union and nonunion labor to convert the Goldtex building at 12th and Wood Streets into apartments.
Kenney asked the city's Department of Licenses and Inspections to visit the Pestronk site this year because he had heard that workers were "being paid improperly" and that subcontractors were not properly licensed.
He said Thursday that the bill had nothing to do with the Pestronks, although he referred to them twice while describing the reasoning for the legislation.
"What we're trying to accomplish is to make sure everyone plays by the rules," Kenney said. "Somehow these developers and these contractors are being held up in some segments of the media as champions of changing the paradigm."
Michael Pestronk said he met with Kenney recently to try to work out their differences, but said he did not understand why the laws needed to be enhanced.
"We're probably the most compliant guys in the city as a result of all the attention we got from the unions and Kenney and others," he said. "To me, all the rules were on the books already."
Contact Troy Graham at 215-854-2730 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow on Twitter @troyjgraham.