Idaho Senate Shoots Down IT Bidding Notice Proposal

Despite passing in the state House of Representatives, a bill to change the public notification requirements for the purchase of goods or services was scrapped Tuesday by the Senate Local Government and Taxation Committee.

by Cynthia Sewell The Idaho Statesman / March 6, 2019
Nagel Photography / Shutterstock, Inc.

(TNS) — Under state law, when a taxing district, like a city or school district, wants to purchase or lease goods or services in excess of $100,000, it must go to competitive bid and it must publish two legal notices soliciting the bid in the “official newspaper” of record for that taxing district.

A bill brought forward by Rep. Jerald Raymond, R-Menan, would remove this requirement for information technology, or IT, purchases valued at $100,000 or more and give the taxing districts the option of either putting a legal notice in the newspaper or posting it on their website, or both.

The bill passed the House with a 44-26 vote on Feb. 22.

But the bill did not pass muster with the Senate Local Government and Taxation Committee, which scrapped the bill on Tuesday.

Raymond told the committee his bill would save taxing districts money because they will not have to pay to publish a legal notice, and it will increase transparency because residents and vendors can go to the taxing district’s website to find out which projects it has put out for bid.

Idaho has more than 900 of those districts, ranging from counties to cemetery districts, which means each district would only need to post the notice to its own website to comply with the bill.

“The bill does not require any use of a central website, it instead sets up a system where individuals would have to check every single website of every single entity in the state,” committee chairman Sen. Jim Rice, R-Caldwell, told the committee.

Idaho already has a centralized online location where residents and vendors can go to see what types of things taxing districts are putting out to bid, Jeremy Pisca, an attorney and executive director of Newspaper Association of Idaho, told the committee. The group is a trade association comprising the majority of daily and weekly newspapers in Idaho, including the Idaho Statesman. The association opposes the bill.

The Newspaper Association of Idaho started the website, IdahoPublicNotices.com, in 2012.

Every notice that is required to be published in a newspaper must be uploaded to that site. The website is fully searchable and there is no cost for the public to access the website, Pisca explained.

Another tripping point for some senators on the nine-member committee, of which five are attorneys, is the bill had no definition of “information technology” or what constitutes an IT purchase.

Sen. Todd Lakey, R-Nampa, noted the whole chapter of law the bill would change is about “services and personal property” purchases ranging from “heavy equipment to services for travel” without clearly defining each category.

Sen. Grant Burgoyne, D-Boise, added, “Lack of definition of ‘information technology’ is, I think, going to get litigated eventually. And that is what we are buying into with this bill if we go there.”

Editor’s note: The Idaho Statesman is a member of the Newspaper Association of Idaho.

©2019 The Idaho Statesman (Boise, Idaho). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.