Public works bill clears Senate

Democratic lawmakers knocked the bill as harmful government overreach.

The Senate cleared a bill Tuesday that would overhaul the construction bidding process for local public works projects.

The bill (HB 53) requires local governments to utilize competitive bidding processes when contracting city, town or county projects.

It blocks them from “train(ing) employees in designated programs with restricted curriculum or from a single source,” according to the bill language.

The Senate approved the measure (HB 53) with a 24-16 vote. Republican Rep. Nick Diceglie is the bill sponsor.

The bill would also block local ordinances that require things like apprenticeship programs, a trend among some more liberal cities aimed at providing work opportunities for residents.

Moreover, it would prohibit localities from requiring a contractor to establish an office within the jurisdiction.

Democratic lawmakers knocked the bill as harmful government overreach.

“This bill will preempt qualifications, like local hiring practices, and make it harder for small businesses and local vendors to compete with the larger out-of-state or even international contractors.” Democratic Sen. Victor Torres said. “This bill is bad for local contractors.”

Republican Sen. Jason Broduer, however, pushed back against the assertion.

Broduer, sponsor of the Senate companion bill, noted the bill was amended to apply only to contracts worth $1 million or more.

Additionally, the amendment says public entities may use preferences as incentives, but can’t prevent an out-of-town company from bidding for a project.

“It still allows – at any dollar level—local municipalities to provide incentives,” Broduer said. “The place where this makes a distinction is in public works projects greater than a million dollars. All we’re saying is that you can’t prevent a bid from out of town, doesn’t mean you can’t provide an incentive for those who do live in town.”

The House approved the bill earlier this month with a 78-36 vote.

If approved, the bill would take effect July 1.

The 2021 Legislative Session ends April 30.

Jason Delgado

Jason Delgado covers news out of the Florida State Capitol. After a go with the U.S. Army, the Orlando-native attended the University of Central Florida and earned a degree in American Policy and National Security. His past bylines include WMFE-NPR and POLITICO Florida. He'd love to hear from you. You can reach Jason by email ([email protected]) or on Twitter at @byJasonDelgado.


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