TRENTON – A proposal that would require public entities to go out to bid for professional services cleared a Senate panel Thursday.
The legislation, S1517, cleared the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee along party lines. Both Republican senators sitting on the committee abstained from a vote, allowing the bill, sponsored by Sen. Shirley Turner, (D-15), Trenton to be released from the committee.
“The intent of this bill, of course, is to ensure that all people … receiving contracts are qualified,” Turner said. “We haven’t done enough … in the way we’re awarding contracts in the state.”
Currently, contracts for professional and technical services can be negotiated and awarded without publically advertising for bids, according to the sponsor. The proposal would require those contracts to go out for a public bid.
Turner advocated that reform to the Garden State’s bidding process is long overdue, saying that public officials are too often in the news for allegedly accepting bribes in exchange for awarding contracts for services.
Sen. Samuel Thompson, (R-12), Old Bridge, one of the two GOP lawmakers to abstain from a vote, applauded Turner’s efforts and said he planned to review amendments to the bill before deciding whether he would support it in the future.
“I would like to commend the sponsor on this legislation,” he said. “I think some change in the process is very much needed.”