Minnesota lawmakers already passed a state bonding bill this year that DFL lawmakers say will put people back to work on construction projects around the state.
But how many of the hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars are being spent hiring people from communities with disproportionately high-unemployment rates and other disadvantaged groups?
Champion’s bill, and a Senate counterpart SF 2809 from Sen. Linda Higgins, DFL-Minneapolis, would require that before bonding money can be spent on a project, companies getting the contract to do those projects must put together a plan detailing how they will:
* Recruit veterans, unemployed and disabled individuals to work on the projects, and target specific communities with disproportionately high unemployment rates from which to hire employees.
* Recruit employees from job training providers.
* Get word out about job opportunities to disadvantaged communities.
* Demonstrate how much energy savings their building or construction project will generate.
The bill is moving through committees in the House of Representatives this week and awaits hearing in the House State Government Finance Committee before going to the floor for a vote.
The bill language is similar to wording passed last year to deal with reporting on how the federal stimulus dollars are being spent in Minnesota.
If it becomes law, the requirement would apply to state agencies, colleges and universities, counties, cities and other local governments.
The bill requires a follow-up report from the agency, but does not include any language requiring agencies to hire contractors who submit the best plan, or even create penalties if contractors don’t follow the plan. It is a first step, Champion said.