Giving Iowa companies a second shot at state contracts


February 8th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Democrats in the Iowa Senate are trying a second time to pass legislation that would give Iowa companies an advantage in selling goods and services to state government. Under their bill, if an out-of-state company is the lowest bidder, Iowa companies with bids just a bit higher would be given a chance to match the low bid and win the contract. Senator Liz Mathis, a Democrat from Robbins, is the bill’s chief sponsor. “The goal of the bill is to certainly focus on small businesses,” she says, “and to make sure that Iowa businesses are given a fair crack at state contracts.”

This new advantage for Iowa businesses would not apply on huge state government projects, like a new prison. It would apply any time the state buys under half a million dollars worth of goods or services on contract. An Iowa business within 10-thousand dollars or five percent of the winning bid from an out-of-state competitor could get the sale if the Iowa business lowers its price and matches the low bid. “And those bids are usually surrounding things like office supplies, ice machines, computers,” Mathis says. Similar legislation passed the Senate last year, but was never considered in the Republican-led House.

Republicans object to the concept, arguing Iowa taxpayers would wind up paying more to run state government because out-of-state companies with low-cost products would quit bidding for Iowa government contracts.

(Radio Iowa)