State-required reporting on LGBT businesses

May 1, 2012

By Katy Grimes

Democrats in the Assembly passed a bill on Monday requiring the Department of General Services to collect and report information on lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender owned businesses in contracting with the state.

The bill, AB 1960, by Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento, opens the door to allow preferential treatment in the bidding process on state government contracts, similar to the bidding preferences already received by minority, disabled military veterans, and women-owned businesses.

Dickinson vehemently denied this was the intent of the bill. But why else require the state’s largest agency to collect and report the data?

According to the author, “this bill represents a small, but vital step toward breaking down  discriminatory barriers marginalizing a key segment of our population.  LGBT owned businesses are a critical part of our economy, and AB 1960 would help provide recognition for this valuable role.”

Is Dickinson saying that the state discriminates against LGBT-owned businesses and needs a bill declaring that this is wrong?

This is pure nonsense and drivel, except AB 1960 is now on its way to becoming a law.

The State of California spends $8.9 billion annually on state contracts. As the state already provides preferential treatment in state contracting for some, the LGBT community obviously wants to get a piece of the action.

Dickinson’s bill is just the baby step in the process.

It still boggles my mind that the state gives preferential treatment to those it deems victims in need of special assistance in business: Women, disabled veterans, minorities, and now LGBT.

“The cost is small in comparison to the impact,” Dickinson said Monday.

Owners of businesses who qualify for the state’s special certification process must jump through numerous hoops, including mountains of paperwork proving they are a woman, a minority or a disabled veteran.

Multiple years of tax returns, financial statements, business projections, and other forms of documentation proving the validity of the protected class, are required by the state. How then will the state prove that a business contracting with state agencies is in fact lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender owned?

Assemblywoman Linda Halderman, R-Fresno, asked Dickinson that question. But Dickinson said that the bill does not provide any legal entitlement or special privileges, and said that it is voluntary disclosure. But he never did say what the purpose is for asking for “voluntary disclosure”  of sexual orientation when contracting with the state.

The state has a responsibility to use taxpayer money as prudently as possible. AB 1960 would begin the process of adding yet one more discriminatory bid preference to the mix, when instead, we should be removing all of them for the most open field for competition.

Preferential treatments in state bidding reduce competition and result in higher costs for taxpayers. The system is already gamed by phony business owners claiming to be minority or women owned. What’s to stop anyone from claiming to be LGBT?

AB 1960 is a stupid bill and just additional evidence that California needs a part-time Legislature.



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