It looks like there was great interest in the “jobs” bill being heard in the Assembly Government Affairs Committee this morning, since it is standing room only in the meeting room.
The Committee is hearing AB 144 this morning, which aims to change the bid preference statutes for public works projects. According to the bill summary, “Under existing law, a contract for a public work is awarded to the contractor who submits the best bid.”
AB 144 would add five new conditions to the bid preference laws, as follows:
(1) At least 50 percent of the workers on the public work have a Nevada driver’s license or identification card;
(2) all of the non-apportioned vehicles primarily used on the public work are registered in Nevada;
(3) at least 50 percent of the design professionals who work on the public work have a Nevada driver’s license or identification card;
(4) at least 25 percent of the materials used in the public work are purchased in Nevada; and
(5) certain payroll records related to the public work are maintained and available within this State.
Obviously, there are some onerous accounting requirements that will be involved in the submittal of all public bids in Nevada – something that flies in the face of legislative leadership’s professed committment to streamlining regulations on the construction industry.
More than that, however, this blatant effort at state mercantilism is certain to invite reciprocal treatment from neighboring states. As representatives from the Associated Builders and Contractors testified to the Senate Select Committee hearing on Friday, many native Nevadans are currently working on public works projects commissioned in other states.
In todays meeting, Assemblywoman Debbie Smith testified that “Other states are on board with this,” referring to the changes included in AB 144. I’m guessing she means that she’s conferred with lawmakers in other states and that they have agreed to discriminate against Nevadans in their public bidding processes just as Nevada will do with residents of other states.
Mercantilism as an economic theory was thoroughly refuted more than 200 years ago, but it is alive and well at the Nevada Legislature.