‘Buy American’ bill heads to governor
By Emily McFarlan email@example.com May 30, 2012 9:52PM
Updated: July 6, 2012 9:25AM
ELGIN — A bill to make it easier for community colleges to buy American-made products — inspired by Elgin Community College trustees — passed the Illinois Senate Wednesday and goes now to Gov. Pat Quinn to sign into law.
Senate Bill 2929 was approved 48-4. It had unanimously passed the Senate in March but needed a concurrence vote after it was amended by state Rep. Keith Farnham, D-Elgin.
It had been introduced in February by state Sen. Michael Noland, D-Elgin, and passed the Illinois House two weeks ago.
“I believe that all levels of government should put the people first — from the federal government in Washington to local school boards,” Noland said in a statement. “One of the easiest ways we can show our support for our communities is to buy American-made products, especially local products.”
But the Illinois Community College Purchasing Act has required colleges to take the lowest bid when making purchasing decisions.
That’s something ECC Trustee John Dalton said he learned not long after becoming a trustee about a year ago.
“When my fellow trustees told me our hands were tied by state law and we had no discretion to buy American-made products if the bid containing foreign goods came in lower — even if the price differential was not significant — I couldn’t believe no one had addressed this flaw,” Dalton said in a written statement.
He and Trustee Robert Getz both approached Noland.
The bill will create the Procurement of Domestic Products Act to make it possible for community colleges to take into account where an item was made when making purchasing decisions. Price still will be a primary consideration, Dalton said, but “community college boards should have some latitude to spend tax dollars putting Americans to work and strengthening our economy and tax base. It’s just common sense.”
Said Noland, “When you buy local, American-made products, you help put people to work right here in this country, and more of your money goes back into the local economy.”