The House on Wednesday gave final passage to a bill that would overhaul the construction bidding process for local public works projects.
After concurring on a Senate amendment, the House passed the bill 79-34. Republican Rep. Nick Diceglie is the bill sponsor.
The bill (HB 53) requires local governments to utilize competitive bidding processes when contracting city, town or county projects. It also blocks cities from “train(ing) employees in designated programs with restricted curriculum or from a single source,” according to the bill language.
Local ordinances that require things like apprenticeship programs, a trend among some more liberal cities aimed at providing work opportunities for residents, would be prohibited.
The amendment, meanwhile, provided an exception for localities if the provisions create “undue economic hardship” in a rural area of opportunity.
The bill further bars localities from requiring a contractor to establish an office within the jurisdiction under the measure.
Lawmakers raised no questions or debate during the hearing.
During a Senate floor debate earlier this week, 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 pushed back against the assertion. He noted the bill applies only to contracts worth $1 million or more.
Moreover, 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.”