Legislative Update – March 10, 2014

TSEA March 11, 2014 0
Legislative Update – March 10, 2014

This 108th General Assembly has an unprecedented opportunity to clean up Tennessee’s state contracting procedures, protecting the public and safeguarding the taxpayers’ dollars. TSEA and legislators on both sides of the aisle recognize this need, and there are a number of bills currently before the legislature attempting to establish oversight and ask for a closer look at the fiscal and personnel implications of contracting out state services.

TSEA asks every member of the General Assembly to consider the merits of Senator Finney and Representative Fitzhugh’s SB1447/HB1872 and to support it vigorously. This bill is aimed at protecting the state from conflicts of interest in its contracting process. If passed, it will prohibit a contractor, who is hired to evaluate and give the state advice, from turning around and receiving a lucrative contract to implement that same advice as we have all seen that happen with contracts presently in force (JLL’s contract to manage state buildings). Both state agencies and potential contractors will be required to reveal all potential conflicts, of whatever nature, up front during the procurement process. This bill is on calendar tomorrow in the Senate State & Local Government Committee at 10:30AM.

TSEA has its own contracting bill, SB2022/HB2161, sponsored by Senator Bell and Representative Matheny. This bill is on calendar tomorrow, March 11th in the Senate State & Local Government Committee at 10:30AM along with Senator Finney’s bill. Senator Bell’s bill would require the Fiscal Review Committee to review any contract which would result in the loss of state employees’ jobs, through a resultant reduction-in-force. It would require that review to include a look at whether state employees could do the job as efficiently as the proposed contractor. This bill will also be heard this Wednesday, March 12th at 3:00PM in the House State Government Subcommittee.

Another bill TSEA supports is Representative Turner and Senator Harper’s HB2197/SB2394. This has been taken off notice for now, but may yet return in the last weeks of session. If so, it offers further opportunity to improve the state contracting process, making it more open and visible to the public, who, after all, are picking up the tab. The impact of the contract on the local economy, including employment and potential unemployment, will be measured and that information made public. The provisions of the contract itself will be public information, as will be the contractor’s record of performance. Renewals of contract with state agencies will be an open procedure, will not be automatic, and will involve competitive bidding. This bill, taken together with Senator Finney’s SB1447, will go a long way toward cleaning up the process of state contracting.

We ask that you contact your legislators and deliver a clear and simple message:

“As a tax-paying citizen and employee of the state, I am supportive of these bills. I believe contractors with a history of misconduct and mismanagement have no place in providing state services. State employees are the best providers of these vital services because we are not motivated by profits or bottom lines. I am asking you to vote in favor of this legislation and to encourage your colleagues to support these bills.”

To find out who your legislators are, visit the TN General Assembly’s “Find my Legislator” page to enter your mailing address and see the contact information for your local Representative and Senator.

To watch the hearings online, click on the committees below to find contact information of the committee members, schedules, and links to video streams:

Senate State & Local Government Committee

House State Government Subcommittee

As always, we will make you aware of updates and developments as information comes available, and will put the word out if your help is needed in contacting legislators regarding our bills.

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