'Buy local' law to be tweaked

December 3, 2011

State lawmakers are planning to change the language in a controversial new law that requires city and county governments give preference to local bidders.

The so-called “buy local” law requires local government units to award contracts for supplies and public works projects to bidders based in the county or surrounding counties. That uproots the long-standing practice of awarding contracts to the lowest bidder that meets bid specifications.

Since it went into effect in July, the law has raised concerns among representatives from cities and counties, as well as vendors and groups such as the Indiana Construction Association.

Those complaints have prompted a sponsor of the bill, Sen. Allen Paul, R-Richmond, to support changing the bill’s language so that selecting a local bidder will be an option, rather than a requirement.

“We said ‘may’ in the original version, but it was changed somewhere along the line in the Senate, and I just went with it,” Paul told the Richmond Palladium-Item last month. “The original intent of the bill … was to give the local bidders a chance if the bids were close.”

Senate Republicans already are drafting language to change the law, according to the Palladium-Item.


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