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Legislative Update


Bill establishing competitive bidding thresholds for school districts will receive a public hearing

by | Dec 12, 2023 | Legislative Update Blog, State Issue

On Thursday, December 14th at 10:00 a.m. in the State Capitol, the Assembly Committee on Local Government will hold a public hearing on Assembly Bill 723. This bill would require that school boards solicit bids and award a public works contract to the lowest bidder if the estimated cost of a contract exceeds $150,000 and the contract is for the construction, repair, remodeling, or improvement of a public school building or for the furnishing of supplies or materials. Strategically, the bill also increases the threshold that triggers competitive bidding requirements for other local governments which groups that represent counties, towns, cities and villages will support. The bill was circulated for co-sponsorship back in late-October, by Rep. Robert Brooks and Sen. Duey Stroebel (R’s-Saukville).

AB 723 confers no authority on school boards and school districts that they don’t already have. In reality, it imposes restrictions on school boards by taking away flexibility that many boards and districts currently use to generate taxpayer value through the use of alternative project delivery methods. WASB opposes AB 723, and we urge school leaders to contact your state legislators and ask them to oppose this bill. We invite you to testify in opposition to this bill either by speaking at the public hearing, or by submitting written testimony to the committee clerk. Please contact WASB Government Relations Staff if you have questions about providing testimony or contacting your legislators.

While Wisconsin school boards are currently not statutorily required to utilize competitive bidding, many school boards do voluntarily use a competitive bidding process for school construction projects as a matter of board policy. Many other school boards find that the flexibility they currently have to utilize alternative project delivery methods can also provide certain advantages to their districts while still providing value to their taxpayers. AB 723 would take away school districts’ ability to negotiate with local contractors by requiring schools to use competitive sealed bids for projects of more than $150,000 and by prohibiting districts from using a bidding method that gives preference based on the geographic location of the bidder, quality vs cost analysis, or any criteria other than the lowest responsible bidder.

Also up for a public hearing this week is SB 378, related to designating school sports teams based on the sex of the participants. The Senate Committee on Mental Health, Substance Abuse Prevention, Children and Families will meet tomorrow, December 13th to receive public testimony. The Assembly previously passed their version of the bill back in mid-October. If the Senate passes this bill, it will then move to Governor Evers, who has already stated his intent to veto the legislation if it reaches his desk.

 

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