TRENTON – A bill (S-2458), sponsored by Senators Ellen Karcher and Fred Madden to ensure debarred contractors don’t get public works contracts, was signed into law today by Acting Governor Richard J. Codey.
“Today, we are saying with this new law, that if you want to work for the people’s money, you’d better run a clean operation,” said Senator Karcher, D-Monmouth and Mercer.
“This enactment will make it clear that if you mistreat workers or become corrupt, you can’t keep getting public contracts by just changing the name of your company or by switching around your personnel,” said Senator Madden, D-Gloucester and Camden.
The new law prohibits a contractor or subcontractor that has been debarred from using a firm, corporation or partnership in which that contractor or subcontractor has an interest to circumvent debarment and continue to earn money from public works contracts.
Senator Karcher said the new law advances efforts to ensure that workers get a fair wage and that taxpayers aren’t abused by corrupt contractors whose influence with public officials through campaign donations has often been unseemly.
“I’ve seen first-hand what happens in a community that becomes virtually taken over by greedy developers,” said Senator Karcher, who once wore a wire as a Marlboro Township councilwoman as part of a successful federal corruption probe. “Laws like this advance our cause to effect change and clean out corruption at every level of public business.”
Senator Madden credited the Department of Labor and Workforce Development for informing legislators that contractors subjected to debarment for up to three years from bidding on public works contracts because of wage violations or corrupt practices were making only nominal changes to their corporate structures to keep getting public money.
“If we turned our backs on the practice, we’d be ignoring the law and promoting mistreatment of workers and abuse of taxpayers,” said Senator Madden.
Senator Karcher noted that she was told it was becoming common for contractors to low-bid for numerous contracts to store up lucrative public contracts to continue raking in public money during periods of debarment.
“We have to make it clear that public officials are not in the business of making things easy for contractors who start hearing the footsteps of investigators,” Senator Karcher said.