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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Barron introduces new ban on no-bid contracts


After criticism from the office of Gov. Bob Riley about Democrats exempting the legislative branch from a bill that would ban no-bid contracts, Sen. Lowell Barron introduced what he said was a corrected version on Wednesday.
Barron, chairman of the committee that decides which bills come to the Senate floor for consideration, said he always intended to stop all agencies from using no-bid contracts.
He said the majority of the no-bid contracts, including a recent multi-million-dollar computer consulting contract, go through the executive branch, but his bill would ensure all agencies are included.
Currently, Alabama does not have a law that prohibits no-bid contracts. Barron's legislation would prohibit no-bid contracts of more than $7,500 with an exception for emergencies.
Any contract with the state of Alabama in an amount in excess of $7,500 shall be competitively bid and open to the general public after a reasonable and prudent period of advertising on a central electronic site maintained by the state," according to the proposal. "Such contracts shall be awarded to the lowest responsible bidder.
"Any contract entered into without complying with the lowest competitively bid requirement shall be null and void, and the state may not honor any no-bid contract which fails to comply with this section."
Barron's first version stated that any contract entered into by the executive branch in any other manner would be null and void, drawing criticism from Riley's office. The legislation did not mention any other branch of government.
Riley's press secretary, Todd Stacy, said Friday that he might believe the error if the Democrats did not have a history of writing themselves out of accountability bills.
Barron said it was always his intention to prohibit no-bid contracts by all agencies, but there was a mistake in drafting the legislation. He said on Friday that he did not catch the language that only specified the executive branch and vowed to change the legislation to ensure it applied to all state agencies.
Stacy, on Friday, questioned why the bill even mentioned the executive branch if it was intended to ban no-bid contracts from all branches.

-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen

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