Gov. Brian Kemp has vetoed a mysterious bill that would have expanded no-bid contracts for local public works and MARTA projects, saying there was “no reason” for it.

House Bill 193 passed the Georgia General Assembly near the end of its session in March. The bill began as a proposal to boost the size of local governments’ public works contracts that could be exempted from competitive bidding requirements – from $100,000 to $250,000.

In the Senate, it was adopted with an amendment allowing a similar, but much broader exemption for any “rapid transit authority.” The amendment would have allowed no-bid purchases of “any goods, supplies, equipment, other property or services” from a vendor who already has a similar contract with the state or federal governments or any county or municipal government within the transit service area. The annual total of such purchasing or contracting could be up to $250,000.

The amendment was introduced by Sen. Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta), who did not respond to comment requests at the time. MARTA spokesperson Stephany Fisher at the time said only that the legislation would help with unspecified “potential safety and security initiatives.”

Sen. Josh McLaurin (D-Sandy Springs), who was among the “no” votes, previously said he opposed it as making contracting “less accountable to taxpayers.”

Kemp this week announced the veto on similar grounds. “As a general matter, the State must competitively bid any construction or public works contracts more than $100,000.00,” he wrote in a veto signing statement. “There is no reason competitive bidding requirements for local governments should be more lenient than those for state-issued contracts.”

Fisher, the MARTA spokesperson, declined to comment on the veto.

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