New Jersey tinkers with Buy America rules improvements

Posted by mmcmullan on 05/20/2014

Big day for the Alliance for  American Manufacturing yesterday. We were pretty busy. But lost in all the hub-bub during our rally in western Pennsylvania was this news nugget from neighboring New Jersey:

That’s New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney up there in the picture. Sweeney and a partner from across the aisle, Kevin O’Toole, are pushing a package of legislation in Trenton that would toughen up Buy America requirements for public infrastructure projects. Among other things, these bills would require vendors working with state agencies to observe American-made preferences when fulfilling contracts.

Writes Steve Strunsky in the Newark Star-Ledger:

Sweeney, (D-Gloucester), said he crafted the requirement after reading in The Star-Ledger last fall that a $1.2 billion project by the Port Authority (of New York and New Jersey) to raise the Bayonne Bridge roadway would use imported steel, though the agency said a $1.5 billion replacement of the Goethals Bridge would use only domestic steel, a requirement of projects that receive federal funds.

Strunksy further points out that laws governing the Port Authority must be enacted by both New York and New Jersey. But parallel legislation has been introduced in the Assembly, and in both houses of the New York State legislature:

If approved in both states, the measure would apply to steel used by contractors for dozens of projects under a 10-year, $27.6 billion capital plan adopted by the Port Authority in February.

So this legislation has got a little ways to go yet. But for what it’s worth: Jersey’s Senate Budget and Finance Committee passed the legislation Monday afternoon. One hurdle down! Bring on the next one for strong Buy America preferences in the Garden State.

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