Republicans and Democrats in the House temporarily overcame their differences and approved a package of legislative reform bills on second consideration. The House had scheduled the bills for approval the week of January 24 but the bills were held up over procedural differences between the two parties.

With a 112 to 90 majority, the Republicans retaliated for numerous Democratic amendments to the Democratic representation on the stranding committees by one. The resolution could yet see floor action, according to House Republican sources.

“Partly we’re using it a club that if we think the D’s are going to do anything unreasonable we’ll put the resolution to the floor and approve it,” one Republican Caucus source said.

A summary of the bills provided by the House Republican Caucus follows:

State Contract Review Reform – This bill places limits on who can review bids for state contracts. It prevents an individual who has been employed by a company bidding on a project from being part of the review process.

Public Review of Contracts – This measure makes the Right-To-Know Law applicable to public procurement contracts and provides for public inspection of non-competitively awarded contracts prior to execution of the agreement.

No Start-Ups – Under this bill, members of the General Assembly would be prohibited from creating or maintaining non-profits which receive public funds. Introduced as House Bill 922 last session, this bill was not considered by the House.

Strengthening whistleblower protections for all state employees and those working on state contracts – These bills extend whistleblower protection to employees of nonprofits and private sector companies who report waste of public monies obtained by their employer for services or work. It also provides similar protections to legislative employees.

The measures will be subject to a final vote in the House next week and then will be sent to the Senate for consideration.