Several key pieces of legislation affecting the Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) Program were passed during the 2011 Maryland General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Martin O’Malley.
The MBE Program operates on a 5-year sunset, expiring on July 1, 2011. After receiving the February 17, 2011 Disparity Study, the general assembly enacted House Bill 456/Senate Bill 120, introduced by Delegate Dan Morhaim (D-Baltimore County) and Senator Joan Carter Conway (D-Baltimore City), to reauthorize the Program and provide for the following changes:
- Extends MBE Program with current 25% statewide goal in place until July 2012 – This ensures the continuation of Maryland’s MBE program while providing sufficient time to review the February 17, 2011 Disparity Study and propose additional changes that may be required.
- Clarifies process for setting contract goals – The statute explicitly states that MBE contract goals must be set on a case by case basis and must be tailored to the individual circumstances of each contract and the availability of MBEs to perform on those contracts.
- Replaces statutory subgoals with detailed guidance for setting contract subgoals – The Governor’s Office of Minority Affairs (GOMA) will issue this guidance in a manner that comports with the laws affecting federal and state race- and gender-conscious MBE programs.
- Increases transparency for Good Faith Waiver process – All final waiver determinations must be made in writing and reported to GOMA and the Board of Public Works, which will provide clarity regarding how, when and why waivers are granted.
- Institutes Control Contracts – The Board of Public Works and GOMA will identify a small number of contracts that would be issued without goals so that the State may assess the levels of MBE participation occurring in the absence of contract goals.
- Ensures that MBEs are not used as “Pass through” – The Board of Public Works must issue regulations to clarify that MBEs must serve a commercially useful function.
Senate Bill 558, introduced as emergency legislation by Senator Catherine E. Pugh (D-Baltimore City), adds statutory provisions for amending the MBE participation schedule prior to and after contract award.
Senate Bill 638, introduced by Senator Joanne C. Benson (D-Prince George’s County), specifies a termination date of July 1, 2018, for certain provisions of law relating to minority participation in video lottery facility operations, and provides a termination date for specified duties of the State Lottery Commission and the Governor's Office of Minority Affairs relating to the monitoring, reporting, and taking action on specified activities.
Changes to the MBE Program as a result of House Bill 456/Senate Bill 120 and Senate Bill 638 are effective July 1, 2011. Senate Bill 558, which was approved as emergency legislation, became effective May 10, 2011. To view more details about these and other actions taken during the 2011 General Assembly, visit the Maryland General Assembly website at www.mlis.state.md.us.