House Republicans Kill Minority Owned Business Legislation

Today, a Republican House subcommittee passed Senate Bill 651 by for the year, effectively killing it. SB 651 seeks to put women-owned and minority-owned businesses on a level playing field when competing for state contracts. 

SB 651 would have mandated the Governor take action to ensure fairness in the marketplace.

“I’m disappointed and dismayed that House Republicans would vote to prevent women and minorities from competing fairly for state contracts,” said Senator A. Donald McEachin (D-Henrico).

“The state contract system isn’t giving women- and minority-owned businesses a fair shake,” added Senator McEachin. “Thanks to a state-sponsored study, we first became aware of this problem a decade ago, and we’ve tried other remedies. But clearly, they have not resulted in a procurement system in Virginia that is fair to all businesses. This system does not let women and minority owned businesses compete for a fair share of dollars, period. It’s time to act now.”

In 2010, a state study on contract disparity found that Virginia is failing to take advantage of the services and products offered by our women- and minority-owned businesses. Women- and minority-owned businesses have the ability to earn over 20% of state contract money, but currently are earning less than 3%. Clearly, the current state contract system is systematically short-changing women- and minority-owned businesses.

In 2004, following the release of a prior contract disparity study, then-Delegate Bob McDonnell sponsored a bill (HB 1145) to give the Governor the ability to implement race- and gender-neutral remedies to this problem. Since the implementation of that legislation and later executive orders, the percentage of state contract dollars earned by women- and minority-owned businesses has increased only marginally. Strong action is clearly required by the General Assembly.

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