Time for Pay-to-play reform anyone?


A group of House Republican lawmakers is proposing a package of bills squarely aimed at obliterating what they term the "pay-to-play" culture that pervades the awarding of state contracts.

Only problem is, there's barely any time left in this year's legislative session to get these bills debated, approved and sent to Gov. Rendell.

And if they don't pass muster by next month, they will die with the session.

The bills would, among other things, require all contracts for legal services to go out to bid. The way it stands now, certain legal contracts can be awarded on an "emergency" basis without being put to bid. (This bill, Republicans said, would have prevented the Rendell administration from awarding a contract last year on an emergency basis to the firm of Ballard Spahr Ingersoll & Andrews for work on the proposed leasing of the Pennsylvania Turnpike).

The Republicans' bills would also ban any no-bid contract from being awarded to a person or business which donated more than $300 to a candidate for state or local office within one year of the date the contract was posted for public bidding.

Rep. Doug Reichley (R., Lehigh) said earlier today that he believes that if there is the political will, the legislature can get those bills approved and to the governor's desk in the next three weeks. But he pointed out that "the ball" is in the Democratic-controlled House's court to expedite the process.  

"They can bring it up today," said Reichley. "There is time."

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