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Rice-Cunningham Bill To Report Minority- And Women-Owned Business Contracts In School Construction Signed Into Law

Senators Ronald L. Rice, D-Essex, and Sandra Cunningham, D-Hudson, speak about legislation on the floor of the Senate

Measure Will Ensure Transparency, Compliance with Contract Set-asides for Women- and Minority-Owned Businesses

TRENTON – A bill sponsored by the Chair of the Legislative Black Caucus, Senator Ronald L. Rice, and caucus member Senator Sandra Bolden Cunningham which requires the New Jersey Schools Development Authority (SDA) to report on the number of contracts awarded to minority- and women-owned businesses was signed into law yesterday by Governor Christie.

“As New Jersey residents continue to come to grips with the effects of the national and global economic crisis, it’s important that we make sure that everyone has a chance to recover,” said Senator Rice, D-Essex. “New Jersey’s policy of setting aside public contracts for minority- and women-owned businesses has been a useful tool in providing opportunities to business owners who may otherwise be disregarded because of the color of their skin or because of their gender. This new law will protect contract set-asides by ensuring public reporting and transparency of contracts for minority- and women-owned businesses.”

The bill, S-95, directs the SDA to examine and compile biannual reports detailing the number of school construction contracts that have been awarded to minority- and women-owned businesses. The reports will have to include information on the total value of the contracts, and the percentage of those contracts as they relate to the total number that have been awarded by the SDA over the six months prior to the issuance of the report. Under the bill, the information compiled in the reports will be required to be submitted to the Governor, the Joint Budget Oversight Committee, the Senate President and the Speaker of the General Assembly.

“Minority- and women contractors sometimes have a far different perspective and can contribute a different outlook to publicly-bid projects,” said Senator Cunningham, D-Hudson. “Diverse viewpoints and out-of-the-box thinking are what we need now more than ever, as public agencies seek to do more for New Jersey residents with fewer and fewer resources. By ensuring compliance with the State’s contract set-aside policies, we’re guaranteeing a seat at the table for contractors whose unique perspective and life experience may be a boon to the State’s taxpayers.”

The bill was unanimously approved by the Senate in February, and received the unanimous approval of the Assembly in October.

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