Monday, January 26, 2009

Post-424: Minority Contracts Imperiled in Nebraska

Matthew Hansen of the Omaha World Herald has an article on the impact of the recently passed anti-affirmative action ballot initiative (Proposition 424) on state-level contracts for minority-owned and female-owned businesses in Nebraska.

Omaha city leaders hope - but can't guarantee - that minority-owned companies will get contracts to help build the new downtown ballpark this year.

That's a marked change from a decade ago, when the Omaha City Council mandated that at least $5.7 million in contracts go to women and minorities during the construction of the Qwest Center Omaha. The difference: Nebraska's new ban on affirmative action.

The ban, upheld in court last week, has halted the City of Omaha's protected business enterprise program, which for years shuttled a small part of giant public works contracts to minority- and female-owned businesses.

It also has sent the city and the University of Nebraska scrambling as they end programs that clearly violate the law, tweak scholarship requirements and strip from hiring policies newly banned language that mentions race, ethnicity or gender.

This seems to confirm what we feared, that the measure will make it harder for the state to develop mechanisms to address the historic inequalities faced by women and minorities when it comes to getting equal access to state resources/contracts.

Any thoughts?

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