CHARLESTON – Legislation requiring that goods and equipment purchased for state projects be made in a America was endorsed by the House of Delegates this week by a 90-7 vote and sent to the Senate for consideration.
“It’s time for the state of West Virginia to put its money where its mouth is and ensure that state tax dollars are spent on American-made goods and services,” House Industry & Labor Vice Chairman Phil Diserio, D-Brooke, said. “While we’re working to create jobs, we also need to ensure that West Virginia workers don’t lose jobs to oversees companies.”
Along with Delegate Diserio, Delegates Ronnie Jones, D-Hancock, and Mike Ferro, D-Marshall, have witnesses first-hand the effect such losses have had on the steel industry and local communities.
“It’s difficult for industries to compete if buyers choose products from foreign companies that pay unfairly low wages and operate with lax manufacturing standards,” Jones said. “Manufacturing is coming back in the United States, and as legislators we should do what we can to support those businesses.”
“The people in our area are very sensitive to the damage unfair foreign competition has had on the region’s economy,” Ferro added. “I believe this legislation will be well received.”
House Bill 4168 was developed during the 2013 interim process by the Joint Committee on Labor & Worker Safety Issues, which is chaired by Delegate Dan Poling, D-Wood.
“We heard testimony from a number of affected groups, and members put a great deal of energy into creating a solid piece of legislation,” Poling said. “By making sure American-made products are used in state projects, West Virginia is supporting both the large American manufacturer and small businesses, the fabricators and machine shops, which are a vital part of West Virginia’s economy.”
House Speaker Tim Miley commended Delegates Diserio, Jones, Ferro and Poling on their efforts to gain support for the legislation.
“The delegates are working hard to secure manufacturing jobs for their districts,” Speaker Miley said. “They understand how important supporting American companies is not only their local economies, but to the state and national economies as well.”
House Bill 4168 requires that the goods and equipment purchased by the state Department of Administration for all construction contracts of $500,000 or more, be made in the United States.
The state Division of Labor would be responsible for maintaining a list of goods and equipment produced in the United States to assist agencies seeking bids. To view the bill, go to Bill Status, and enter 4168.