Oregon House Unanimously Passes Bill to Strengthen Minority Contracting Law


The Oregon House of Representatives voted unanimously to fix a longstanding problem with Oregon’s public contracting rules: That Minority, Women and Emerging Small Businesses have a difficult time competing for public contracts due to manipulation of contracting rules by other, larger firms.

House Bill 2716 aims to address the problem of contracting firms using minority participation or certification as a selling point to win a contract, but failing to maintain that level when carrying out the work. There have also been reports of MWESB firms being solicited to have their names used for a bid, without doing any of the work.

The bill will address that problem by requiring that agencies verify that firms awarded contracts based on their MWESB status retain that status throughout the duration of the contract.

“Minority contractors are just looking for an opportunity to grow their businesses by landing and performing work,” says Rep. Lew Frederick (D-Portland). “MWESB businesses are not looking to leap to the top of the ladder, but they want access to the rungs, and an opportunity to climb. Nobody is looking for a handout, just a chance to grow and prosper through work.”

Currently, these contracting rules are enforced only through a complaint-driven process, which has been shown to be ineffective, as business owners are reluctant to complain for fear of losing future work. HB 2716 would create real consequences for bad actors who game the system.

The bill passed the House floor unanimously and will now be considered by the Senate.


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