A group of black legislators in Minnesota wants the state to begin awarding contracts on the basis of race, according to a Monday report.
“The United Black Legislative Caucus, made up of 10 Black Minnesota state senators and representatives, announced in a recent virtual town hall that they’ll push for the state to require 15% of all public contracts to be awarded to businesses owned by people of color,” The Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal said.
Citing the Minnesota Department of Administration, the news outlet said that only two percent of state government contracts are awarded to minority-owned businesses currently.
One Minnesota congressman says new laws are not necessary for such an arrangement.
“We have many laws that are in the books, but sometimes we don’t apply them,” state Rep. Mohamud Noor (DFL-MN-60B) reportedly said.
Noor (pictured above), also the director of the Confederation of Somali Community in Minnesota, reportedly referred to Minnesota Statute Chapter 16C.
Minnesota Statute Chapter 16C.285 defines what it means to be a “responsible contractor” in the state. It mandates that state contractors must make a “good faith effort” to award contracts to “targeted group” businesses, “disadvantaged” business enterprises, or veteran-owned businesses. The state can assess a monetary sanction if contractors fail to meet these responsibilities.
Another DFL member of the state House of Representatives echoed Noor.
“I think it would make a huge difference,” said Rep. Esther Agbaje, (DFL-MN-59B) reportedly said. “Anything that we can do to continue to level the playing field and focus on making sure that we have equity in our system, that increases the wealth and the pride for everyone.”
The United Black Caucus also plans to help minority business owners acquire government contracts based on their race by “simplification of contract bidding processes,” according to Noor, who also said that the group would also look to do away with “unnecessary contract specifications,” and that he might request an investigation into why minority-owned businesses are currently not being awarded government contracts at higher rates.
“The requirement to award ethnic-minority owned businesses with 15% of all government contracts was also proposed in the Minnesota House Select Committee on Racial Justice’s Report to the Legislature in December,” according to The Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal.
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Pete D’Abrosca is a contributor at The Minnesota Sun and The Star News Network. Follow Pete on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected]
Image “United Black Legislative Caucus” by The Minnesota State Senate.