Proposed legislation to provide support to small, diverse, veteran small businesses

Regional News

REGIONAL Pa. (WTAJ) – State senators on Tuesday announced new legislation to ensure that small, diverse, and veteran-owned businesses receive support and equal opportunities in state contracts. The bipartisan bill, sponsored by senators Vincent Hughes and Camera Bartolotta aims to give small businesses an opportunity to compete for contracting opportunities with state government contracts.

SB900 legislatively establishes the goal-setting program administered by the PA Department of General Services, Bureau of Diversity, Inclusion and Small Business Opportunities. Goal-setting establishes minimum SDB participation and spending commitment levels for solicitations for construction, design professional services, supplies and services. In addition, the legislation calls for a disparity study to be completed every five years to maintain the constitutionality of the programs and keep aspirational targets up-to-date for the goal-setting program. The legislation further removes the 100-employee limit from the definition of “Small Business” allowing size and revenue limits to be set on an industry-by-industry basis which is more consistent with federal program eligibility requirements.

Senator Camera Bartolotta, one of the lead sponsors of senate bill 900 said the bill will offer more than 5,000 small, diverse, and veteran-owned businesses across Pennsylvania the tools needed to be more dominant in their fields.

“To provide an immediate and meaningful impact by expanding opportunities for these businesses to compete for and be utilized in state contracts,” Bartolotta said.

Senator Vincent Hughes, who sponsored the bill alongside Bartolotta added it will increase participation in state contracts for minority-owned, women-owned, and veteran-owned businesses.

“To make sure that those businesses who are historically not had an opportunity, get an opportunity. That they get to the table,” Hughes said.

Governor Tom Wolf today applauded proposed legislation that will statutorily establish policies and programs to ensure that small, diverse and veteran-owned businesses continue to receive the support and opportunities they deserve in state contracting.

The state has spent more than $2.7 billion towards small, diverse, and veteran-owned businesses since 2015 when Governor Wolf announced an executive order. The catalyst for the proposed legislation evolved from the Governor’s 2015 “Executive Order on Diversity, Inclusion, and Small Business Opportunities in commonwealth Procurement and in Pennsylvania’s Economy.”

The catalyst for the proposed legislation evolved from the Governor’s 2015 Executive Order on Diversity, Inclusion and Small Business Opportunities in Commonwealth Procurement and in Pennsylvania’s Economy. The order created the Bureau of Diversity, Inclusion and Small Business Opportunities, or BDISBO, within the Department of General Services, the Governor’s Advisory Council on Diversity, Inclusion, and Small Business Opportunities and led to the 2018 Statewide Disparity Study which examined disparities in the commonwealth’s contracting system and made recommendations for improvement.

“We have been very successful in implementing policies and programs that give our small-, diverse- and veteran-owned businesses a fairer and more equitable chance to compete for – and obtain – contracting opportunities with state government,” Governor Wolf said. “We also know the important role that consistency plays in ensuring the continued success of any policy or program, which is why this effort to legislatively establish the programs and policies administered through the Department of General Services Bureau of Diversity Inclusion & Small Business Opportunities is so significant.

“The commonwealth must continue to its part to support small diverse and veteran-owned businesses in Pennsylvania. And that means we need to pass the important legislation that my colleagues are introducing today,” Governor Wolf said.

Senator Bartolotta added right now this is just a proposed bill but adds getting it passed is a priority.

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