A broad requirement that entities that receive State aid would have to advertise to different target audiences that represent the racial diversity of the State was introduced in Senate Bill 737. MACo Associate Director Barbara Zektick submitted testimony in opposition to SB 737 before the Senate Education & Health & Environmental Affairs Committee on February 20, 2018.
MACo’s concerns address the broad language and implementation of the bill. SB 737 does not speak to what media sources accurately represent the diversity of State, and also does not take into account the broad racial disparities across counties located in different geographic regions of the State. The silence on these topics could create concern for county contract procurement and the concurrent requirement to adhere to these standards.
From MACo Testimony:
While no doubt noble in its intent, this bill is too broad to implement effectively without exposing innumerable county procurements to countless bid protests. It is unclear what media sources, if any, accurately reflect the “racial diversity of the State.” It also fails to account for the differing racial diversity in various regions of the state; a county in Western Maryland may advertise in different media outlets than a county in central Maryland, for example. Under this bill, all counties would be obligated to advertise in the same way, regardless of targeted need, geographical region or type of procurement. Finally, it is unclear whether a specific target audience, or ratio thereof, is necessary for compliance with this bill.
MACo supports the implicit goal of this legislation to ensure that State-funded business opportunities reach a diverse audience, but fears that SB 737 falls short of accomplishing that objective, and instead, puts county procurements in jeopardy of constant challenges.”
Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2018 legislative session here.