06 May 2013

Committee action, May 6: HB 240, HB 519

HB 240 by Rep. Kenny Havard would allow legislative committees to interpose themselves in the administrative contracting process, for those more than $5 million, to see whether a contract is worth it and its implications, even as it already is part of the Administrative Procedure Act.  Technical amendments were to the House Appropriations Committee offered and adopted without objection.

Opponents from the Division of Administration noted that this added an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy, despite several other vetting stops within both the executive branch and Legislature, which has the effect of discouraging privatization and in that respect, contrary to Havard’s assertion, was anti-privatization. It also forcibly makes contractors to offer job opportunities to former state employees into privatized operations, which are neither necessary nor appropriate at all times. It also subjects privatization to additional scrutiny beyond tasks done by government employees.

Rep. Roy Burrell wondered whether any follow-up was done to check on whether laid off employees subsequently took on lower-paid jobs or had any job at all. They replied that often this frees employees for better positions even in government.

In closing, Havard cited one negative report on a contracted operation (not mentioning similar negative audits of government performance by state-run operations). The bill was adopted without objection.

HB 519 by Rep. Cameron Henry was similar to HB 240, except that the limits were set at contracting at $1 million and leases at $500,000. He said he was open to combining forces with Havard, although he hadn’t known of that bill and so couldn’t comment on any other exact differences. Vice Chairwoman state Rep. Simone Champagne thought also there was even more oversight, which opponents agreed in that it would add an extra year potentially to the agreement process.

Without objection, the bill was approved.

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