A House bill presented to the State Administration & Technology Appropriations Subcommittee seeks to mandate that projects funded by Florida taxpayer dollars use steel and iron produced by companies within the United States, boosting the local economy while also helping to sustain domestic manufacturing.
House Bill 619 (HB 619), known as the ‘Buy American Bill,’ is drafted to combat the exponential purchasing of materials from Chinese companies, resulting in outsourced labor that ultimately weakens the Floridian economy. The tax-funded projects within the bill include construction, maintenance, repair, renovation, remodeling, or improvement of urban infrastructure.
“HB 619 helps strengthen the economy, create new jobs, and promote responsible environmental practices. Florida taxpayer-funded projects should give support to American companies and workers who continue to manufacture and keep jobs here at home,” said bill author Anthony Rodriguez. “We as a state and taxpayers should not reward companies that move their operation dollars and jobs to countries such as communist China. The ‘Buy American Bill’ creates demand for domestically-produced goods, helping to grow and sustain domestic manufacturing and the millions of jobs it supports.”
The bill enlists 3 waivers that grant a company the right to seek international purchases should there be no domestic availability of the necessary materials. The bill also takes into account the power of public interest, including a provision that would allow companies to ‘go elsewhere.’
“Any competent public administrator will tell you that when you are engaged in public investments, the responsible thing to maximize the bang for the buck,” said Dr. Rich Templin. “We understand that steel production is a foundation industry. It’s a foundation of multiple economic sectors. Every dollar invested in this industry has a ripple effect that goes through the entire economy. The worst thing you can do is take public dollars and invest in another country. It doesn’t promote jobs, it doesn’t pump money into local cash registers, and basically, everything that we engage in taxation for.”
Though lawmakers sounded off in approval, members of the public waived in opposition.
“Unfortunately, I still must come up and oppose this bill because there are quite a few things wrong with it,” said Phillip Suderman, Policy Director of Americans For Prosperity. ” Government holds responsibility as a steward of taxpayer dollars. The power of taxation should come in understanding that the money from hardworking taxpayers should be put into use in a way that will benefit everyone in a way that provides quality while also ensuring the least possible expense. Put simply, government spending comes at a cost to the people. The mandate in this bill won’t control cost. Costs will rise. According to House analysis, this bill will come with a significant negative fiscal impact on state and local governments. This is an anti-free trade, anti-fiscally conservative bill.”
Rodriguez took to the podium to close the meeting to defend his bill and its effects on free-market trade.
“I have heard concern from several of my colleagues, but my voting history will show that I am anti-regulation to another level. But when it comes to the safety of our residents, I’d rather have over-regulation here than no regulation overseas, because this is for the safety of our communities.”
HB 619 passed favorably without amendment by a margin of 12 ‘yeas’ to 2 ‘nays,’ bringing it one step closer to a full House vote.