Header, the Administration of the Honorable Lincoln C. Almond
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  2002 Signature
2002 Veto
2002 No Action

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June 26, 2002


In accordance with the provisions of R.I. Gen. Laws §43-1-4, I am transmitting herewith, with my disapproval, 2002- H 7676, "An Act Relating To Public Property and Works - State Purchases."

This legislation would require that with respect to competitive sealed bidding, preference should be given to supplies, materials and equipment produced, assembled or manufactured in the state, as well as services originating and provided in the State.

Under existing law, the list of Rhode Island-based businesses which, all things being equal, receive a preference in state contracts is restricted to certain businesses which provide professional services. The General Assembly has set forth a specific process for the retention of credentialed professionals where expertise and/or licensing is the driving factor in the selection process. Portions of this process, must, necessarily involve subjective considerations. The General Assembly has set forth a different process for the retention of non-professionals based on competitive sealed bidding where specifications can be developed and a contract awarded to the lowest-priced vendor capable of meeting bid specifications. Since bids can be reduced to their lowest common denominator - price - there is little subjective consideration in play.

This bill applies to supplies, materials and equipment produced, assembled or manufactured in the state. These are biddable commodities. It is bad public policy to extend the limited preference given to professionals operating under one selection process to biddable commodities operating under another. These preferences could do great harm to Rhode Island vendors. None of the northeastern states surrounding Rhode Island have in-state preference laws. Should Rhode Island pass an in-state preference statute, other states may enact similar, retaliatory legislation. Since the Rhode Island market is much smaller than markets in these surrounding states, Rhode Island firms would be hurt more by the limitation on competition in other states than they would be helped by subsidized sales within our borders.

For the foregoing reasons, I disapprove of this legislation and respectfully urge your support of this veto.


Lincoln Almond