A series of bills amending portions of the state's procurement statutes passed through the House on Monday by lopsided votes.
The legislation included House Bills 1161 and 1162 by state Rep. Jim Dotson, R-Bentonville, and House Bills 1179 and 1180 by state Rep. Jeff Wardlaw, R-Hermitage.
"We basically rewrote all of state procurement in these bills," said Wardlaw, who added that no groups involved in the procurement process had any objections.
Each bill received support from 90 or more members in the 100-member House. Only Rep. John Walker, D-Little Rock, voted no, against HB1179 and 1180.
Meanwhile, a bill by Rep. Jack Ladyman, R-Jonesboro, dealing with municipal procurement rules, passed the House by a narrower margin.
House Bill 1041 would allow first-class cities to forgo the solicitation of bids in a local newspaper for any purchases or contracts worth less than $50,000. The cap is now set at $20,000. The bill also would allow the city council to vote to waive competitive bidding rules in "exceptional situations if deemed not feasible or practical."
Several lawmakers raised concerns about how broadly the term "exceptional situations" was defined.
"I don't believe there's a separate definition of exceptional," Ladyman said, but used the example of a natural disaster to explain the need for such an exception.
The bill passed 55-18, with 13 lawmakers voting present.
-- John Moritz