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Jan. 28 | This Week in Government: Whitmer Tax Cuts Underwhelm GOP; Dems Ready To Make Moves; Bills Reviving Version Of Good Jobs For Michigan See Mixed Response

Each week, the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Government Relations team, in partnership with Gongwer, will provide members with a collection of timely updates from both local and state governments. Stay in the know on the latest legislation, policy priorities, and more.

  1. Whitmer Tax Cuts Underwhelm GOP; Dems Ready To Make Moves
  2. Bills Reviving Version Of Good Jobs For Michigan See Mixed Response
  3. UIA Bills, Unemployment Fund Appropriation Overwhelmingly Pass House
  4. House Approps Moves Supplemental With Biz Relief Funds
  5. Automated Vehicle Roadway Tech Bill Moves Through Senate

Whitmer Tax Cuts Underwhelm GOP; Dems Ready To Make Moves

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer appeared to hit all the bases in her tax cut proposals during her State of the State address on Wednesday: repealing the so-called pension tax for seniors, expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit for low-income workers and providing a rebate for electric vehicles.

Republicans, however, with their own tax proposals on the horizon were still critical of the policies the governor floated in her fourth State of the State address. Democrats praised the ideas many of them have introduced legislatively during the last decade.

Whitmer during her speech put on a spotlight on saving people money and lowering costs. Her tax policy proposals, which were leaked to various media outlets earlier in the week, come as Republicans have started pushing the issue.

House Appropriations Chair Rep. Thomas Albert (R-Lowell) called for the state to use surplus funds to cut taxes without getting specific. And earlier Wednesday, a Senate panel advanced a proposal to reduce the income tax and corporate income tax (see separate story).

“I believe that whenever possible, we should make taxes more fair for our seniors and working families. Michiganders should be able to keep more of what they’ve earned,” Whitmer said Wednesday.

She boasted legislation signed last month more than doubling the personal property tax exemption for small businesses and last year’s repeal of the tampon tax – the sales tax on menstrual products.

“We’ve done a lot of good work to lower costs, but I know families are still feeling squeezed. We must do more,” Whitmer said. “Rolling back the retirement tax and raising the Michigan EITC will keep more money in people’s pockets, and we can ensure less comes out.”

Republicans appeared skeptical of Whitmer’s proposals Wednesday. Rep. Matt Hall (R-Marshall), chair of the House Tax Policy Committee, said in a statement the governor needs to do more to help families.

“We must carefully look at lowering taxes where federal dollars have allowed for an injection of funding and created an opportunity to provide relief,” Hall said. “Inflation, workforce shortages and supply chain disruptions have hit the pocketbooks of many people extremely hard and are forcing them into tough financial decisions. Sensible tax reductions can alleviate this while getting more money into our state and local economies.”

Sen. Ken Horn (R-Frankenmuth) said he was not keen on the priorities Whitmer was pushing regarding taxes, saying he would prefer cuts for all residents, not just what he saw as being select groups.

He said legislation introduced in spring 2021 that would allow an income tax credit for all seniors would be a better policy than just for people with pensions.

“Not many people in my district have a pension. Not everyone has a 401k,” Horn said. “These people deserve a break, too.”

Sen. Aric Nesbitt (R-Lawton) said the governor should consider his bill, SB 768, that was reported from committee Wednesday that would lower the personal and corporate income tax rates to 3.9 percent and provide a child tax credit to families (see separate story).

“I think it’s important that if we’re going to push any kind of tax relief for families and small businesses,”  Nesbitt said of his proposal.

He said his hope is the governor follows through on wanting to find common ground on lowering taxes and hope she would be interested in working with legislative Republicans on cutting taxes for everyone.

Democrats, though, praised the ideas outlined by Whitmer. Sen. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) said restoring the EITC is critical to the long-term recovery of the state.

“The EITC is a proven tool for lifting people out of poverty. Right now, families that receive this credit get about $150; increasing the EITC would increase that to about $499 back in their pockets,” Irwin said in a statement. “When hardworking Michigan families get tax relief, they spend it on child care, medicine and groceries. That’s $499 more that our families will have to go right back into our local economies, and help struggling families thrive, rather than just survive. I’m proud to stand with our governor to ensure that workers get to keep more of the money they earned. This small change will make a big difference for a lot of people.”

Whitmer said repealing the pension tax would help real people, including a corrections officer from Marquette named Tim and Sue and Dick, former teachers who live in Jackson.

“They served their communities, saved, and did everything right. But after they finally retired and budgeted on their fixed incomes, their pensions, 401ks, and IRAs were taxed,” Whitmer said.

“They all had to go back to work just to pay the bills. Today, Tim is painting and working odd jobs, while Dick is a drivers ed instructor. Susan worked for over a decade at a hair salon. After a lifetime of work, they still worry about affording the essentials.”

Prior to the 2011 tax changes, the income tax did not apply to pensions from public sector jobs, and retirement income from private sector jobs was subject to a large exemption. The proposal would again exempt public pensions and restore deductions for private retirement income, including private-sector pensions, withdrawals from individual retirement accounts and the portion of a 401k account that is subject to an employer match, saving half a million seniors $1,000 a year, Whitmer’s team said.

Democrats and certain advocacy groups have been calling for the expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit to 20 percent of the federal credit since it was reduced to 6 percent during former Governor Rick Snyder’s tax overhaul in 2011.

Whitmer said Wednesday that in 2010, residents received an almost $3,000 tax refund from the combined federal and state EITC.

“But a year later, taxes on working families went up to pay for a tax giveaway for big corporations they didn’t need. That’s not right,” Whitmer said, referring to how the 2011 tax changes greatly slashed taxes for businesses and increased them for individuals through the elimination of most credits. “Restoring the EITC lifts more than 22,000 people out of working poverty.”

Whitmer also proposed a combined $2,500 electric vehicle rebate: $2,000 for the car and $500 for in-home charging equipment.

“Every year, thousands more electric vehicles are sold in Michigan and all our major auto makers have committed to electrifying 100 percent of their fleets over the next 10-15 years,” she said. “Electric vehicles cost half as much to fuel and maintain as gas powered cars. Switching to electric will save families thousands of dollars a year.”

Michigan Chamber CEO Jim Holcomb said in a statement the Chamber is committed to being an active participant and hopes the governor and Legislature will work collaboratively.

“The Michigan Chamber appreciates the focus Governor Whitmer placed on the importance of reinvigorating our state’s economy and growing businesses and jobs in this year’s State of the State,” he said in a statement. “We know all too well that Michigan businesses are facing unprecedented challenges – from navigating the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, rising inflation and supply chain chaos to the continuing workforce crisis. Finding solutions to these pressing issues is a top priority for the Michigan Chamber because they will help our state, communities and families succeed and allow our economy grow.”

Charlotte Jameson, chief policy officer for the Michigan Environmental Council, said the governor’s proposal on electric vehicles would be good for the environment and the economy.

“Increasing access to EVs is a significant step in combating climate change and reducing harmful air pollution in our communities,” Jameson said in a statement. “The future of transportation is fully electric. We look forward to working with Gov. Whitmer and the legislature to secure the policies and funding needed to move Michigan in this direction and to expand the public and non-motorized transit options that make our communities vibrant and healthy.”

The Michigan Catholic Conference and the Michigan League for Public Policy, both long-time supporters of expanding the EITC, urged action to restore the credit.

“While encouraging the human dignity that comes with work, the EITC is a pro-family, pro-children policy that provides a level of stability and assistance to help families get by and cover necessary expenses or emergencies,” said Paul Long, Michigan Catholic Conference president and CEO, in a statement. “Tonight we are calling on Democrats and Republicans in the Legislature and the governor’s office to collaborate on behalf of the working men and women in the state and their families who earn low-wages and struggle to make ends meet.”

Michigan League for Public Policy CEO Monique Stanton said shared power also means shared responsibility and shared credit.

“As policymakers look for productive, proven solutions to address the financial challenges facing Michigan workers and families, improving the state EITC should be near the top of the list,” Stanton said in a statement. “Increasing the Michigan EITC will directly help nearly 750,000 households make ends meet while getting spent at local businesses on immediate expenses like utility bills, groceries, clothing and school supplies for kids, car repairs and more. This one-two punch of economic impact bumps up everyone’s bottom line and benefits every corner of the state.”

Bills Reviving Version Of Good Jobs For Michigan See Mixed Response

A pair of bills looking to reanimate an updated versions of the Good Jobs for Michigan program were heavily debated before the House Commerce and Tourism Committee on Tuesday.

Proponents of the legislation say they are a necessity to attracting new businesses to Michigan while staying competitive relative to other states. Opponents, however, panned the move as being nothing more than a corporate tax break which would perhaps lead to more job announcements but not actual jobs.

Sponsored by Rep. Angela Witwer (D-Delta Township) and Rep. Mark Tisdel (R-Rochester Hills), respectively, HB 5425 and HB 5426 would amend the state’s Income Tax Act and the Michigan Strategic Fund Act to create the Michigan Employment Opportunity Program in the Michigan Strategic Fund. Another related fund would also be established in the state treasury.

The program would allow eligible businesses to keep all, or a portion, of state income taxes withheld from certified new employees – subject to MSF authorization – as an incentive to create new jobs in Michigan.

“This bill package is about betting on Michigan’s future and encouraging existing businesses to grow,” Tisdel said. “State governments should not hinder growth, but should have a tool to support growth. And this bill package is just that tool.”

This new program would be nearly identical to the former Good Jobs for Michigan program that expired at the end of 2019, except for certain program requirements including the number of new jobs required to be created, the duration and amount of the tax capture and an annual maximum for approved agreements. Those caveats would be based on the population of the county where the eligible business is located.

The Michigan Employment Opportunity Program would be created under HB 5426, which would authorize the transfer of the dedicated portion of withholding tax capture revenues to eligible businesses that entered into a written agreement with MSF – thereby becoming an authorized business – that provides certified new jobs in the state.

Eligible businesses could not be a retail establishment, professional sports stadium or casino, and also could not include part of an otherwise eligible business used exclusively for retail sales.

What would be considered an eligible business would be dependent on the population size of the county it resides in, as well as the number of certified new jobs in Michigan it could offer with an average annual wage that is equal to or greater than the average wage of the prosperity region it resides in. In some instances, pertaining to the number of new the average annual wage would need to be equal to 125 percent or more of the prosperity region’s average wage.

Based on the size of the county and average annual wage of the certified new jobs, the duration of the withholding tax capture revenues could not exceed either five or 10 years from the date the authorized business creates the certified new jobs as provided in their written agreement.

There would also be a multitude of conditions businesses must meet, as determined by the MSF, prior to entering an agreement to withhold tax capture revenues. Some of these include that the eligible business proposes to create and maintain the minimum number of certified new jobs at a facility in Michigan and pay an average annual wage and that the plans for the expansion or location of the eligible business are economically sound.

The bill outlines additional criteria for how the MSF would determine the maximum amount and duration of the withholding tax capture revenues authorized and requirements for the written agreement between it and the eligible business, as well as limitations set on the program at large. It would be capped at $300 million in aggregate, and the MSF could not enter into new written agreements on or after December 31, 2026. Additionally, the MSF could only enter into 40 or fewer new written agreements each calendar year for authorized businesses.

In the event that not all 40 slots would be filled for the year, the extra written agreements would carry over into the next calendar year and be added to the otherwise applicable annual limit. Further stipulations to the number of agreements entered in a year apply depending on the population threshold of a county where the authorized business resides.

The other bill of the package, HB 5425, would allow businesses to keep all or a portion of state income taxes withheld from certified new employees under the Michigan Employment Opportunity Program.

“Economic development is a team sport,” Witwer said. “It isn’t east versus west, or north versus south, nor is it urban versus rural or even Democrat versus Republican. It’s Michigan versus our competitors. Make no mistake – we have competitors. Aggressive competitors. And they are in our state actively trying to recruit our companies and industries to leave us, or expand in places other than Michigan.”

A lengthy analysis from the House Fiscal Agency indicated that any new job created as a result of the bills, which would not have been otherwise created, there would be no direct loss of income tax revenue. With that in mind, the agency did note that the overall revenue via income tax withholding would be less than under current law.

It did, however, estimate that in this scenario the program would increase state revenues, primarily income and sales taxes. The structure of the tax capture, however, would result in distributional differences of income tax revenues.

The agency added that if some degree of job creation would have occurred in absence of the bills then there would be a net loss of income tax revenue, the magnitude of which could not be determined. Due to the $300 million cap created under the bills, though, the legislation would set an upper bound on the potential net revenue loss.

Rep. Pauline Wendzel (R-Watervliet), chair of the committee, immediately questioned why there was a cap on the number of agreements per region and how the population tier thresholds were decided.

“That’s a good question. I mean, if it’s such a wonderful opportunity, why would you cap it? And part of our responsibility is to properly administer these programs to make sure that what is being agreed upon is actually being implemented,” Tisdel said. “That was certainly a part of it, to allow for proper oversight and management of these programs at the state level.”

He added that once the program was in full swing, the cap could be revisited if needed. Regarding the tier system, Tisdel said that was determined creating “as rational of a division of companies by population that we could come up with.”

Rep. Julie Alexander (R-Hanover) also questioned if Tisdel believed the legislation would truly bring new workers into Michigan. At that, Tisdel said that the bills ask for program beneficiaries hire Michigan residents first – in good faith – however it “very well could encourage new residents to move into the state.”

“And that’s not a bad thing,” he said. “We’re currently number 10 in the Top 10 outflow of population states in the country. … But, again, in good faith, companies are encouraged to hire Michigan residents first, but certainly could bring in out of state employees to hopefully become new residents.”

A slew of business groups announced their support for the legislation, including the Saginaw County Chamber, Bay County Chamber, Michigan Works! Association, Traverse City Connect, Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance and the Lansing Regional Chamber.

“The bills approved at the end of last year are a great start, but we’re far from the finish line,” said Maureen Krauss, CEO of the Detroit Regional Partnership. “Other states still hold significant advantages over us in terms of competitive resources, the largest one being our lack of a competitive, consistent incentive structure that can put us within reach of the jobs of the future.”

Also testifying to the bills need was James McBryde, Middle Michigan Development Corporation president and CEO, and Lakeshore Advantage CEO Jennifer Owens, the former of whom stressed that this plan would come at no upfront cost to the state.

“There is total accountability,” he said. “These jobs just be created before the benefit is reached. And there’s a regional approach, which, I think, is a big advantage over the former Good Jobs for Michigan. …. That program sunset in 2019. It’s long overdue to get something back in place. Your support for these bills will give us a much better opportunity to compete with Southern states and other states and I just hope that you will take this and move forward and pass these bills.”

That sentiment was not shared, however, by Michael LaFaive, senior director of the Morey Fiscal Policy Initiative for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. LaFaive painted the two-bill package as being nothing more than “cribbed from the expired Good Jobs for Michigan program” as well as “new wine in 27-year-old wine skins.”

He further slammed the bills for being expensive, lacking basic accountability features and just another way for lawmakers to give up “another $300 million to big corporations, as (the Michigan Employment Opportunity Program) appears ready to do.”

“I have yet to see supporters of programs like this show their own independent, scholarly analysis for evidence of the success of these programs. They can’t, because little of it exists,” LaFaive said. “Instead, they rely on their own opinions, anecdotes and self-serving public relations efforts of professional associations. Instead of creating yet another program, legislators should take a fair field and no favors approach to economic development and focus their efforts on improving Michigan’s overall business plan.”

Diana Prichard, policy director with Americans for Prosperity of Michigan, also spoke against what the bills seek to do at length, saying that subsidies like these “don’t work, they’re unfair, they pit businesses against businesses in multiple ways.”

OTHER BUSINESS: HB 5305 and HB 5306, sponsored by Rep. Joe Bellino (R-Monroe) and Rep. Kevin Hertel (D-Saint Clair Shores), respectively, were also scheduled to come before the committee. It was announced at the top of the meeting, however, that it would be postponed.

The bills would amend the state’s sales and use tax acts to exempt an enterprise data center from sales and use taxes by including it in the exemption currently applied to data center equipment that is sold to, or used by, a qualified data center. It previously came before the committee in October and was positively received

UIA Bills, Unemployment Fund Appropriation Overwhelmingly Pass House

Efforts to keep the Unemployment Insurance Agency from recovering benefits paid out for reasons now declared invalid by the federal government passed the House on Wednesday along with a $250 million appropriation to the trust fund and other new agency requirements.

Under bills passed Wednesday, with most Democrats joining Republicans in voting yes, the UIA would be required to post the trust fund balance on its website, provide a monthly report to an agency ombudsman and examine a claim for benefits and make a determination no more than 10 business days after it was received.

Up first for a vote was HB 5265, sponsored by Rep. John Damoose (R-Harbor Springs). It would prohibit the UIA from recovering payment from individuals who had filed for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance under criteria that are no longer considered valid by the federal government.

It passed the chamber in a 101-1 vote with only Rep. Lori Stone (D-Warren) voting no.

“Please recognize that this bill has nothing to do with those who intentionally defrauded our system,” Damoose said during a floor speech. “Those who committed fraud must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, because they stole from all of us.”

Instead, he said, this bill was for the people who in good faith filed a claim for unemployment during the pandemic only to later be told their career did not qualify for the aid. Individuals on both sides of the aisle rose in support of the legislation, including Rep. Thomas Albert (R-Lowell), Rep. Jack O’Malley (R-Lake Ann), Rep. Steve Johnson (R-Wayland) and Rep. Amos O’Neil (D-Saginaw).

“This legislation … makes it abundantly clear. When the state messes up, the state pays,” Johnson said, adding that unemployment was by far the biggest issue lawmakers’ offices deal with since the onset of the pandemic.

Damoose’s bill is tie-barred to HB 5528, sponsored by Rep. Pat Outman (R-Six Lakes). That bill was moved through second reading to final passage on Wednesday, passing 97-5 with Rep. Julie Brixie (D-Okemos), Rep. Stephanie Young (D-Detroit), Rep. Yousef Rabhi (D-Ann Arbor) and Rep. Julie Rogers (D-Kalamazoo) joining Ms. Stone in voting no.

The remaining bills in the package also were expedited through second reading to final passage with HB 5549 and HB 5552 passing 74-28, HB 5550 and HB 5551 passing 102-0, and HB 5553 and HB 5554 passing 69-33.

Also passing the House 101-1 was HB 5525, which was reported by the House Appropriations Committee earlier Wednesday. Rep. Steve Carra (R-Three Rivers) was the only no vote. The bill would appropriate $250 million in federal COVID recovery funds into Michigan’s Unemployment Compensation Fund.

Two other bills, SB 145 and HB 4290, which would create a first-time home buyer savings program, also saw House action Wednesday. HB 4290 was enrolled after the chamber concurred in a Senate substitute 85-17. SB 145 passed 86-16.

House Approps Moves Supplemental With Biz Relief Funds

Millions of federal dollars would be available for businesses as they continue to recover from the coronavirus pandemic under a bill that cleared the House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday.

The first bill, HB 5524, was reported 27-1 with Rep. Cynthia Johnson (D-Detroit) being the lone no vote.

The other bill, HB 5525, which would put $250 million into the Unemployment Insurance Compensation Fund, was also reported unanimously by the committee and later passed by the full House (see separate story).

Under the first bill, $159.6 million would be appropriated from the federal Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Funds for myriad COVID-19 relief programs, as well as license and fee relief offsets. The largest sum of that money, $53 million, would go toward an Affected Health and Fitness Industry Business Relief program to provide grants to health/fitness industry businesses in Michigan impacted by the pandemic.

That $53 million would be divvyed out through grants, which will have a maximum award level of equal to the affected business’ decline in total sales in Michigan. It would also be capped at an equal amount to the sum of modified occupancy costs, including rent – and deferred rent – common area maintenance, insurance and personal property taxes paid, including deferred property taxes, during the year 2020.

Alternatively, grants could be capped at $250,000 – whichever is less between the two options. Grants would also be scaled based on the magnitude of decline in total Michigan sales.

Other funding allotted under HB 5524 includes $30 million to the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity for convention and visitors bureau relief, $18 million for a Michigan Movie Theater Survival Grant program and $17.7 million for occupational code fee credits and prorations.

Regarding funding for convention centers, the entirety of that money would be awarded to a statewide nonprofit – the Michigan Association of Convention and Visitor Bureaus – to develop a program to provide grants to convention and visitors bureaus to mitigate losses due to the pandemic and to promote hospitality, tourism and travel.

Amanda Fisher, assistant state director for the National Federation of Independent Business of Michigan, said in supporting testimony that to not stock these grant funds or replenish the Unemployment Trust Fund could come at a severe detriment to small businesses.

An additional $10 million would go toward a server training requirement program for the purposes of reimbursing individuals or businesses for training mandated by the Michigan Liquor Control Commission, capped at the cost of certification. Funding to offset health occupation license fee credits, liquor control commission fees, skilled trades fee credits and the state’s food law fee refunds are also outlined.

Prior to being reported one amendment, offered by Rep. Joe Tate (D-Detroit), was adopted which would create a $25 million grant program in the Michigan Community Development Financial Institutions. The Michigan Strategic Fund would be responsible for developing that grant application, as well as an approval, agreement and compliance process as dictated under the amendment.

As moved, HB 5524 would also serve as the funding vehicle for a slew of bills which already passed through the committee – HB 4558, HB 4559, HB 4560 and HB 4561– in the latter half of 2021. The bills would require the reduction or proration of certain fees.

The other bill passed Wednesday, HB 5525, would appropriate $250 million in federal COVID recovery funds into Michigan’s Unemployment Compensation Fund. An H-1 substitute adopted to the bill includes more than $150 million for afflicted businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fisher and Alexa Kramer, the Small Business Association of Michigan’s director of government operations, hammered home replenishing the as sorely needed. The fund currently sits at just under $1 billion.

“The unemployment trust fund … is funded by employers. This fact isn’t well-known, but I think it’s an important one,” Kramer said. “Yet, businesses have no control over the amount or duration of benefits, the efficiency of operations or fraud controls of the fund. They simply have to pay the bill. An additional deposit to the fund is a modest acknowledgement that the depletion of the fund is not the fault of our businesses.”

Other individuals testifying to the need for the bills included officials with the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association, the Michigan Fitness Club Association, the Michigan Independent Venue and Promoters Association and the Michigan Chamber. Each went into detail regarding how the pandemic had specifically affected their field, with all saying that the funding was sorely needed.

Automated Vehicle Roadway Tech Bill Moves Through Senate

The state and private sector could soon join forces and work on bringing automated vehicle roadway technology to the state under legislation that cleared the Senate on Thursday by a wide margin.

SB 706 passed 33-4, and would allow the public and private sectors work together to advance automated vehicle roadway technology – something supporters of the move have said would help Michigan remain a leader in developing the autonomous automobile industry.

Under the bill, the Department of Transportation and the Office of Future Mobility and Electrification would be able to work with private sector companies to create the technology and have it put in place.

While the bill passed with a significant bipartisan majority, there was a brief floor debate prior to the vote.

Sen. Lana Theis (R-Brighton) was among the few who voted against the bill. Despite her agreeing that testing of the technology is needed to continue its advance, she still had concerns.

“This still goes too far in its delegation of authority from the Legislature to the bureaucratic agency,” Theis said.

She also expressed concerns over the department being able to promulgate rules and designate test locations for the technology.

“The Legislature has delegated far too much authority, especially lately, and I’m loath to delegate more of our responsibilities,” Theis said, also posing a hypothetical of the Legislature disagreeing with department decisions and potentially withholding funding as a result.

Theis also said new road lanes could eventually be created but for now there would likely be few if any motorists using them.

Bill sponsor Sen. Ken Horn (R-Frankenmuth) responded that the bill has a limited scope as a pilot project. He added that with autonomous vehicles there is an increased level of interconnectedness to consider in order to make the technology work.

“It’s time for us to understand how this works in the real world,” Horn said. “This is a very big, a very positive step for the future.”

Prior to passage an S-2 floor substitute introduced by Horn was adopted that made a minor wording change.

TOBACCO PRODUCTS TAX ACT: A significant update to the Tobacco Products Tax Act was also passed by the Senate Thursday.

The main bill in the package, SB 720, has several major technical changes and would remove instances of obsolete language. The other bills in the package, SB 721 and SB 722, consist largely of technical changes. All three bills passed by 36-1 votes.

PROCUREMENT: Legislation proposing changes to the state’s procurement contract processes passed the Senate, a move that supporters have said would lead to long-term savings and improved quality for completed projects.

The bill, SB 642, passed 37-0 and would require the state to use a qualifications-based selection process for projects requested by state agencies or departments. This would apply to projects requiring architectural, engineering or land surveying services. The Department of Technology, Management and Budget would be required to evaluate proposals from firms based on qualifications rather than price factors.