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Senate approves Moolenaar legislation

Submitted by Phil Heimerl on June 17, 2011 – 6:01 amNo Comment


Legislation that would allow all contractors, regardless of union or non-union affiliation, to have equal access to competitively participate in any and all public construction project contracts, was approved by the Michigan Senate today. (Thursday)

“This is one of the most significant reforms enacted this year by Michigan policymakers,” said Sen. John Moolenaar, sponsor of the measure.  “It creates open and fair competition in bidding for state contracts and will directly result in cost savings for taxpayers.”

Senate Bill 165 establishes the Fair and Open Competition in Governmental Construction Act. The legislation ensures that every qualified contractor can bid on public contracts and not be otherwise prohibited from doing so under special contract provisions known as project labor agreements.  Public contracts would include state, local government, school, college and university construction projects using tax dollars.

“Taxpayers also benefit from having public construction that is completed by the lowest, most qualified bidder,” said Moolenaar, R-Midland. “This reform is about leveling the playing field so all businesses can compete and save tax dollars.”

Under the proposal, all public construction contracts using tax dollars would be prohibited from containing project labor agreement language that allows only union or non-union organizations to participate.

Discriminatory project labor agreements drive up the cost of public construction by eliminating competition that would otherwise help keep expenses down.  Studies have proven that discriminatory project labor agreements increase the cost of construction between 10 and 20 percent.

The 36th District lawmaker said change is needed in Michigan to maximize taxpayer dollar value on public construction projects. In Michigan, union-only project labor agreements have been mandated on certain construction at universities, community colleges, counties, cities, townships and school districts.

“Our state deserves the accountability and equal opportunity that results from fiscal responsibility and open competition,” said state Rep. Joe Haveman, R-Holland, who sponsored similar legislation in the House.  “This is the kind of government reform we need to get Michigan back on the right path.”

SB 165 now goes to the House for further consideration.

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