House approves Jones bill to give all bidders a fair shot

Sen. Rick Jones

Sen. Rick Jones

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan House of Representatives on Wednesday unanimously approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Rick Jones to ensure that all companies compete on an equal playing field when bidding for a public contract.

The Senate will enroll the bill and send it to the governor to be signed.

“It is unfair that vendors could use FOIA in our state to look at bids from their competitors before a final decision has been made on the project contract,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “Without this change, state taxpayers could be missing out on savings, because companies can use FOIA to see the current lowest bid and then come in just under it — even if they were going to offer a much lower bid. Companies can also use FOIA to find out how much money the state can spend on a particular project.

“I look forward to seeing the governor sign this measure and stop the abuse of our FOIA system to undercut Michigan businesses.”

Senate Bill 69 would exempt a bid, quote or proposal involved in a procurement process from the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) until the final notification that the contract is awarded. The bill would also exempt trade secrets and financial or proprietary information from FOIA.

Jones said that many businesses are refusing to participate in the procurement process in Michigan because they fear that their trade secrets or financial information will be compromised.

“We want to attract the best companies to Michigan, and this legislation would put us in line with 41 other states that protect financial and proprietary information by exempting it from FOIA,” Jones said. “Importantly, the reform would only change the timing of bid disclosure information. There would still be transparency once the contract has been awarded.”