Jacksonville Councilman Rory Diamond is introducing legislation alongside commissioners from three other Northeast Florida counties that would have local governments buy United States products over those imported from overseas, even if they are more expensive.
Diamond announced the legislation at a virtual press conference Wednesday. He said Nassau County Commissioner Justin Taylor, St. Johns County Commissioner Jeremiah Blocker, and Clay County Commissioner Gavin Rollins will be filing similar legislation for their counties.
“We're having massive issues just helping our neighbors day-to-day,” Diamond said. “So wouldn't it make sense to take a huge amount of money that we're spending in local government - $2 trillion a year - and spend it as much of it as humanly possible here in America?”
According to the legislation, U.S.-made products that are within 5% of the price of products purchased outside of the country would be given a preference.
Diamond said the goal is to help stimulate the U.S. economy, causing more supply and demand for the products, making them more competitive on the market and keeping more people employed.
“Even if we have to spend a little bit more money to keep our neighbors and our families employed,” it’s a good thing, Diamond said. “And given what we're about to be facing, that makes absolute sense and we should send as little money as humanly possible to [the] Chinese communist government.”
To qualify for the preference, 51% of the components of the product must be manufactured, assembled, or produced in the U.S.
There are also several exemptions, including purchases by the city with a cost of $10,000 or less, professional services, purchases made under emergencies or sole sources, or if a U.S. business has products that are unqualified or exceeding the projected budget.
Diamond said he is working with the city administration to make sure the legislation is feasible. He is introducing it seven weeks before it would come before the City Council.
“I suspect that we'll have some amendments and tweaks here and there as people get more comfortable with it, but the core idea is sound,” Diamond said.
Diamond’s district covers Jacksonville’s beaches, which he said has been hammered by the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic. As the beaches have reopened, businesses will slowly recover, but limited occupancy has still caused trouble.
“That's why I think that if we're going to spend our taxpayer dollars, we're going to take money from people who live in our community and make them give it to their government,” Diamond said, implying that less tax revenue would end up going overseas.
Diamond said he’s spoken to six other Florida counties about introducing similar legislation.
Sky Lebron can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 904-358-6319 or on Twitter at @SkylerLebron.