TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Florida state business contracts will get decidedly more patriotic if a new bill requiring state agencies to prioritize iron and steel produced in the U.S. for public works projects is passed.
House Bill 619 was introduced in November, before making it through two Florida House of Representatives subcommittees. Each vote was declared favorable and proposed legislation was moved to the State Administration & Technology Appropriations subcommittee for another review before heading to a full House floor debate.
According to the bill’s text, governmental entities in Florida engaging in public works projects would be required to use United States-produced iron and steel products. The bill clarifies that, should it pass, it would apply to any and all subdivisions of a state office, board, bureau, commission, department, branch, division or institution, as well as separate agencies or units of local government.
This means any and all agencies or departments funded by taxpayer dollars and a part of local or state government, from police departments and sheriff’s offices to county commissions and statewide law enforcement agencies, would be required by default to use American metal for public works projects.
Under the bill’s purview, a public works project is defined as “an activity that is paid for with any state-appropriated funds or funds administered by a governmental entity and which consists of the construction, maintenance, repair, renovation, remodeling, or improvement of a building, road, street, sewer, storm drain, water system, site development, irrigation system, reclamation project, gas or electrical distribution system, gas or electrical substation” or any facility owned wholly or partly by a government entity.
The bill defines metals produced in the U.S. as iron and steel that have gone through “all manufacturing processes, from initial melting through application of coatings, occur in the United States, other than metallurgical processes to refine steel additives.”
However, the proposed legislation does provide three exceptions to using American iron and steel for a public works project.
If the iron or steel made in the U.S. is not made in a high enough quantity, reasonably available or of satisfactory quality, the bill says other metals can be procured. Additionally, if the use of American metal would increase the cost of a project by more than 20%, other material can be used instead. Finally, if complying with the American iron and steel requirement would be “inconsistent with the public interest,” the requirement can be ignored.
HB 619 says the factors to waive using American-manufactured iron and steel would be determined by the governmental agency charged with purchasing the materials for a public works project. Legislature analysis of the bill said funds appropriated in the General Appropriations Act, excluding federal funds” would be subject to the procurement requirement.
However, that means any funds provided by the federal government would not be subject to the potential purchasing and procurement limitations set by the bill. If passed, HB 619 would not apply to international agreements that would impair the state’s obligations by using American iron and steel products.
Should the governor sign the bill into law, it would take effect July 1.