Legislative Alert

Schools could pay extra to Michigan firms

Leg-up for Michigan vendors

Public schools would be allowed to pay a premium for supplies and equipment if the additional money went to a Michigan company under legislation approved by the state House of Representatives in May.

Introduced by Rep. Dudley Spade, D-Tipton, in January, House Bill 5639 would allow conventional public schools, charter public schools or intermediate school districts to pay 10 percent more than the lowest bid, up to $100,000, when awarding a contract for the purchase of supplies, material and equipment. In effect, the legislation would require out-of-state bidders to beat an in-state offer by more than 10 percent.

The bill would apply to single transactions costing more than $20,000, as well as material and labor for construction. Rep. Jacob Hoogendyk, R-Kalamazoo, attempted unsuccessfully to link House Bill 5639 to another bill that would exempt public school construction or repair projects from the state’s prevailing wage law. Hoogendyk’s proposal failed in a voice vote.

The bill passed on an 88-20 vote on May 21 and was referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee on May 27.

Track this item online: www.michiganvotes.org/2008-HB-5639

Parents would elect charter boards

Parents would be allowed to nominate candidates and elect the board of directors of public school academies under legislation introduced by Rep. Mary Valentine, D-Muskegon, on May 22.

Currently, the authorizing body of each public school academy (more commonly called charter school) in Michigan decides the number of board members, term limits and method of selection of board members in the schools it oversees. In many cases, current charter board members nominate and elect newcomers subject to authorizers’ approval.

Under House Bill 6177, the parents of students enrolled in the school would nominate and elect candidates to the board. Schools already in operation would be required to hold a new board election within 120 days after the bill is signed into law, and new schools would be required to hold an election within 120 days after the opening date.

The bill was referred to the House Education Committee.

Track this item online at www.michiganvotes.org/2008-HB-6177

No college aid for non-citizens

College students in Michigan who are not U.S. residents would be ineligible for scholarships, loans and other state financial assistance under a package of 12 bills introduced by nine state lawmakers in May.

The assorted bills would require that any student receiving the Michigan Merit Award, state competitive scholarship, state college loans, work-study assistance, nursing scholarships or any of a variety of grants must be a citizen or in the process of becoming one legally. The provisions would apply to all students, including part-time independent students and those who receive tuition waivers as the child or surviving spouse of a Michigan corrections officer killed in the line of duty.

All of the bills were referred to the House Oversight and Investigations Committee on May 21.

Track these items online: www.michiganvotes.org/2008-HB-6135 (through HB-6146)