Senator Lucio's Letterhead

PRESS STATEMENT FROM SEN. EDDIE LUCIO, JR.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, May 9, 2007
CONTACT: Doris Sanchez , Press Secretary
Phone: (512) 463-0385

BILL WOULD INCREASE SMALL CONTRACTORS ACCESS TO STATE CONTRACTS

AUSTIN, TX -- Small contractors in Texas will gain an equal footing in competing for state projects through a bill by Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr. that will expand an existing capacity building program.

Senate Bill 704 would add bonding assistance and safety training to the Small Contractor Participation Assistance Program, originally established in 1993 under the Texas Building and Procurement Commission. This legislation would implement and expand the program to include in-depth technical assistance in insurance and bonding, as well as safety training.

"It is more difficult for small contractors to secure insurance and bonding than to find work," said Sen. Lucio. "Public works contracts tend to be huge multi-million dollar agreements, and few small contractors win these contracts because they lack adequate bonding coverage to handle these large projects. My bill attempts to level the playing field."

"Sen. Lucio's bill will give small and minority contractors an opportunity to bid for more public works projects," said Frank Fuentes, Chairman of the US Hispanic Contractors Association. "In turn, the state will save money through a more competitive bid process."

Contracts for public works projects of over $1 million would be eligible under the program, which would benefit the state by increasing the number of businesses eligible to submit pubic works bids and lowering the risk of small contractors. The program would also implement a centralized system of purchasing certain coverage and bonds, as well as provide a public outreach plan to encourage participation.

"I believe that a coordinator under this program can provide one-on-one assistance to small contractors and walk them through the procurement process, particularly within facility renovation and building construction projects," explained Sen. Lucio, "Networking with existing public and private contractors would be another resource provided."

"This is a good program that will improve the small contractor's access to bonding, increase the number of bids submitted for public works and expand the likelihood that small contractors will be awarded contracts."

The bill was approved in the Senate and is awaiting a hearing in the House.

Note: Ms. Perla Cavazos, senior policy analyst, handles this legislation for Sen. Lucio, 512-463-0127.

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