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Bill seeks to tweak Nevada bidders’ preference law

CARSON CITY — Contractors would have to hire more Nevada workers to receive a bidding preference on public works projects under a bill debated Tuesday in a Nevada Assembly committee.

Assembly Bill 172 also would streamline the Nevada Jobs First Initiative adopted in 2011, though Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick, D-North Las Vegas, and Assemblyman William Horne told the Government Affairs Committee that amendments are pending.

“This bill is a work in progress,” said Horne, D-Las Vegas.

In an effort to ease the pain of the Great Recession in Nevada, lawmakers approved Assembly Bill 144 in 2011. It gave contractors who bid on public works jobs a 5 percent preference over other bidders if at least half of all workers on the project hold a Nevada driver’s license. It also required that at least 25 percent of all materials used on projects come from Nevada.

The new bill seeks to increase the number of workers who must be Nevada residents to 100 percent. Additionally, 50 percent of project design professionals would have to be residents and register their vehicles in-state.

Contractors would only be required to keep paperwork showing compliance with the law if they are successful, preferred bidders.

“The last time we required everyone to fill out the paperwork regardless,” Kirkpatrick said. “This time we believe the best way to start this … if you get the job based on your lowest bidder then you have to comply with all of these requirements.”

No one testified in support of the bill, though Kirkpatrick said that was expected and lawmakers, labor groups and contractors were working out their differences.

“There’s no perfect bill in this building,” said Kirkpatrick. “I don’t believe there’s a person in this room who’s going to say they love the bill as it is.”

During hearings in 2011, some legislators expressed concern that the law was protectionist and that Nevada contractors could face roadblocks when bidding on contracts in other states.

But Kirkpatrick said other states, including Utah, Texas and Arizona, have enacted similar legislation.

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