We are now more than halfway through the second session of the 101st Legislature. Committee hearings concluded on February 25th, and we have begun all-day debate on over 100 Senator, Speaker, and Committee priority bills. In this newsletter, I will share my thoughts on my priority bill for this session.
First, I should briefly explain what a priority bill is. Each senator has the opportunity to designate one bill as their priority bill. If and when a bill is advanced to General File, priority bills are guaranteed debate by the full Legislature before all other legislation. Additionally, each committee can designate two bills and the Speaker of the Legislature can designate 25 bills as priority bills.
After careful consideration, I chose LB 948 as my priority bill. Introduced by Sen. Bill Avery, LB 948 makes changes to the competitive bidding process for the purchase of machinery and equipment by the State of Nebraska. It requires the State to take into consideration the life-cycle costs for all classes of equipment when choosing the lowest responsible bidder. A lifecycle cost is the total lifetime cost of acquiring and owning a piece of machinery or equipment including variables such as fuel, maintenance and repair costs. LB 948 also requires bidders to provide data on the life cycle costs of heavy equipment such as loaders, paving equipment and motor graders.
I chose LB 948 as my priority bill because of its potential to save the state money and benefit Nebraska businesses. In this economy, it is important to make sure Nebraska’s limited budget is spent wisely. While a product may be less expensive initially, its long-term costs can quickly negate any early savings. This type of long-term thinking was evident in the recent purchase of a motor grader by supervisors in Hall County, NE. The machine they chose had a higher price tag than the other options, but a long-term cost analysis found it will consume less fuel and have lower maintenance costs over the duration of its life.
In addition to the potential savings to the state, LB 948 could lead to additional state contracts for Nebraska businesses. Currently, some Nebraska suppliers of machinery and equipment are passed over in favor of out-of-state manufacturers with lower up-front costs. LB 948 will give Nebraska companies a better chance of receiving the state’s business.
My interest in this subject stems from my many years of experience working on acquisitions, while in the military and the private sector, and using the competitive bidding process. It is likely most Nebraskans have also utilized life-cycle costs in their daily lives. When making a major purchase such as a car, consumers consider not only the purchase price but also gas mileage, maintenance costs and resale value. This is especially important during these challenging economic times. I believe having the state use life-cycle costs is prudent use of taxpayer dollars.