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State Democrats introduce "Michigan Jobs First" plan

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Democratic lawmakers in Lansing have rolled out bills to give a stronger advantage to Michigan companies bidding to do business with the state.

One bill would do give a preference to Michigan-based businesses that bid on state contracts. Another would let Michigan companies get a second chance if they are underbid by an out-of-state firm.

State Senator Curtis Hertel, D-East Lansing, is a bill sponsor. He says other states have similar preference laws.

“Michigan companies are at a disadvantage already,” he said. “And so what we should be doing is making sure in Michigan our tax dollars are going to create Michigan jobs. And this bill will help do that.”

In 2013, the Lansing State Journal reviewed over a thousand state contracts. They found that 78% of contract dollars go to in-state companies.

But House Democratic leader Sam Singh, D-East Lansing, says that’s not enough. 

“Local businesses contribute significantly more to local economies than out-of-state companies,” said Singh. “Yet, close to 25% of the value of state contracts are currently with out-of-state companies. That’s just wrong.”

Critics of similar legislation say it limits competition and can cost taxpayers more money for these state contracts. They also say it could discourage local businesses from providing the best prices.

Michigan currently does give preference for a state contract to an in-state company, but only if all other factors are equal, like project specifications. Hertel says this preference is hardly ever used because two contracts are rarely exactly the same.  

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
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