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Rice/Cunningham Law Will Help Level The Economic Playing Field For Women And Minorities

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

New Law Will Also Increase Transparency & Accountability on Publicly Funded Projects

TRENTON – A new law sponsored by Senators Ronald L. Rice and Sandra B. Cunningham was signed recently creating economic parity for women and minorities by ensuring that they benefit from publicly funded construction contracts.

“This is about empowering people to help themselves,” said Sen. Rice (D-Essex). “Although everyone around the country is feeling the effects of the recession, women and minorities are typically more affected by poverty and plummeting unemployment rates. The best thing the state can do to help our communities in need is to increase access to training and job opportunities through a more equitable disbursement of public funds.”

“For many years, we have been working hard to address the disparity in the awarding of construction contracts to businesses run by woman and minorities,” said Sen. Cunningham (D-Hudson). “This law will ensure that women and minorities are better prepared and informed to take advantage of the job growth being fostered by state and federal investments.”

The law requires that any state or local public body entering into a construction contract worth more than $1 million, and funded in part or in whole by public dollars, transfer 0.5 percent of the amount funded by public money to the Department of Labor and Workforce Development (DOLWD). The requirement also extends to a construction contract of any size, which is funded wholly or partly by funds from the federal “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.”

The money will be used by the department for outreach and training programs geared towards women and minorities, including programs of preparation for admission into registered apprenticeships in the construction trades.

The law also creates an added level of transparency by requiring the DOLWD, in coordination with the Treasury Department, to publicly post on the Internet a full disclosure of each construction contract, the funds provided to programs funded pursuant to the law and the numbers of minority group members and women participating in the programs. Furthermore, DOLWD will be required to provide annual reports, also made public on the Internet, on all programs funded through the bill, including data on the enrollment of minority group members and women into registered apprenticeships and results regarding their long-term employment.

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