2013 Session Update: Procurement Legislation

Bills have started moving fast and furious now that the “Opposite Chamber Bill Crossover Date” has come and gone.  “Crossover,” as it is more commonly referred, is the date in which each Chamber is to send bills to the opposite Chamber that it intends to pass favorably. While it is still possible for a bill still sitting in its committee of origin to pass, it is more likely that bills still in this status are not going to move and those that have moved to the opposite Chamber will continue to be worked towards final passage.

This post summarizes the status of procurement related bills that MACo either considered or took a position on.

American Manufactured Goods: HB 191/ SB 47, as introduced, would have expanded the “Buy American Steel” procurement requirements to include American manufactured goods. MACo opposed the bill stating that it would add both cost and complexity to a wide range of public procurements, undermining the most efficient use of public funds. Although there were nominal exemptions to the requirement, they were unreasonably stringent. Under the bill, the price of a qualifying product would need to exceed the cost of an otherwise comparable product by 20% to 30% before being considered unreasonable.  As amended, the bill mirrors the statute for “Buy American Uniforms” and would apply more reasonable criteria to determine unreasonable amount, reasonably available, and substantially less. Status:  Both bills have passed their respective Chambers.  HB 191 is awaiting a hearing in the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee. SB 47 is scheduled for a hearing in the Health and Government Operations Committee on April 3.

Contract Retainage Amount: HB 293 / SB 140 would reduce the retainage amount a local government would be able to withhold on a construction contract to 5% for the life of the contract. Under current law, a local government can withhold no more than 10% during the first half of a contract, dropping to no more than 5% for the second half of the contract. MACo opposed this legislation stating that local governments do not have the same practical bargaining power as the State, so this “one size fits all” approach to match state requirements is inappropriate.  In addition, most local governments do not have the same overall presence in the marketplace to otherwise influence performance of private contractors, making the presence of sufficient retainage an essential protection for taxpayer investments. Status:  Both bills have passed their respective Chambers.  HB 293 is awaiting a hearing in the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee. SB 140 was heard in the House Health and Government Operations Committee on March 27.

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