There are still budget battles and (probably) blockades from the 9th Circuit to come, but sooner or later the President is going to get some work started on the border wall. But if and when he does, California is laying some landmines in advance for any private contractors who dare to bid on the job and pour a single yard of concrete. In a move being dubbed, “Build it and be banned,” California legislators are proposing to impose a permanent ban for government contracts on any company who takes part in the project. And no… this is not an article from The Onion. (Los Angeles Times)
California legislators took the first step on Tuesday to ban state government contracts for any company that helps build President Trump’s promised wall along the Mexico border, with the author of the plan urging colleagues “to be on the right side of history.”
The bill by state Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) would prohibit any company from receiving a new or extended contract with the state of California if it participates in a future effort to build a new wall construction along the 2,000 mile international border.
“The wall is another attempt to separate and divide us,” Lara said in testimony to the Senate Governmental Organization Committee. “It sends a message that we are better off in a homogenous society.”
Incredibly, this bill already passed out of committee in the state senate on a party line vote. It wasn’t just the Republicans who were alarmed over the probably illegal measure either. One representative of the Southern California Contractors Association asked the obvious question, saying, “What next unpopular project would be blacklist?” [sic]
Stop and think about the implications of this legislation for a moment. At both the federal and state levels, governments bend over backwards on a regular basis to ensure that private sector companies are given equal access to government jobs when they come available. This is to ensure both a chance at the taxpayer getting the best price and to promote equal opportunity for such opportunities, with particular incentives offered to companies owned by minorities or small business entities who might otherwise have trouble competing with the big boys.
Now California is hoping to take a huge leap in the opposite direction. They would be effectively shutting out companies from the competitive bidding process for the crime of bidding on a different and (by the time it happens) presumably legal infrastructure project which was funded by the federal government. This is absolutely unheard of.
Assuming that this piece of political chicanery actually gets signed into law, I assume that any contractor affected by it (or perhaps one of their trade associations) would be able to challenge the law in court. Given that we’re talking about California the law would likely make it through the first round of challenges. But have we truly fallen so far into national disrepair when it comes to partisan infighting that such a law could survive through the Supreme Court? That would open up the floodgates to states using such arm twisting maneuvers to essentially blacklist any unpopular proposals requiring civilian contractors out of existence. Such blacklisting is a favorite tool of the Social Justice Warriors in the private sector, but if it suddenly receives the imprimatur of the government then all bets are off.
California has truly become the land of granola cereal as a friend of mine likes to say. It’s pretty much nothing but nuts and flakes at this point.