A lot of money is going to be spent in Tennessee over the next year, that means bidding opportunities for Tennessee businesses to win those contracts (and lots of public notice to let our readers know what contracts are available in our community.)

The filing deadline for lawmakers to introduce bills was February 11th and, though we are still weeding through all of the bills filed, there are a couple of themes that seem to be surfacing. One is that many of our local governing bodies are looking to find ways to make electronic meetings a norm, not just while dealing with COVID-19.

There is one bill that has been filed, by Sen. Dawn White (R-Murfreesboro) and Rep. Mary Littleton (R-Dickson), that concerns us, especially when you take into consideration the new budget that has just been passed about all of the money that will be pumped into infrastructure and rural development.

The bill proposes that it would increase from $10,000 or more to $25,000 or more, the amount for which a local board of education or the governing body of a public charter school must make purchases or expenditures by competitive bids. Currently any purchases or expenditures $10,000 or higher needs to have a public notice ran to inform the public of the contract and to allow local businesses to bid on those contracts. This means that all contracts below $25,000 can be given out to businesses without any notification to the community. I have spoken to several local businesses who said a $10,000 contract is significant and important to their success. The increase in the threshold for public notification is an opportunity for insider deals and corruption to happen in our communities.

Our governing entities have an obligation to be transparent and to proactively let citizens know how government is spending their taxes. By allowing this bill to pass I think we would be allowing our elected and appointed officials to operate without public knowledge and scrutiny backwards from transparency. With over a billion dollars that will be spent in Tennessee in 2021, every contractor, every business deserves the right to bid on these contracts. I urge you to inform your readers of this bill and ask that they reach out to their local representatives and let them know they do not support our lawmakers taking away business from them.