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Judge Nixes Tucson’s Local Contracting Law

TUCSON (CN) - An ordinance that gives local businesses preference in city contracting is illegal, a superior court judge ruled.

Pima County Superior Court Judge Gus Aragon struck down the bid-preference ordinance on Nov. 25, finding that it discriminates against out-of-town bidders for government contracts and violates the Arizona Constitution.

The Tucson City Council adopted the ordinance in 2012 to give local business a leg up in the bidding process for contracts worth $50,000 to $1 million.

The Phoenix-based Goldwater Institute challenged the law in February, claiming that it permitted "subsidies to arbitrarily defined 'local' companies at the expense of the general taxpaying public and in violation of state law and the United States and Arizona constitutions."

"Just like big-box stores shouldn't get special tax breaks that mom-and-pops can't get, mom-and-pops shouldn't get special deals to charge taxpayers more for services," Goldwater Institute attorney Jon Riches said in a statement. "This lawsuit is about protecting taxpayers and leveling the playing field for all businesses and keeping the public procurement process a politics-free zone."

City Attorney Mike Rankin told the Arizona Daily Star that the City Council will consider an appeal at its Dec. 9 meeting.

Karl Hirschman, a taxpayer, was lead plaintiff.

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