Senators have been advocating for changes included in governor’s plan
STATE HOUSE – Sen. Sandra C. Cano and Sen. Ana B. Quezada today thanked Gov. Gina M. Raimondo for efforts she announced today to institute training on implicit bias and equity within state government and study state contracting practices to ensure that minority-owned businesses truly have an equal opportunity at procurement – two efforts for which the senators have been advocating.
“I applaud and thank the governor for her leadership in instituting change in state government. Rhode Island is a richly diverse place, and our government should represent, support and include Rhode Islanders of every race, ethnicity and background. These steps, as well as the other parts of the RIse Together vision the governor announced today, are positive and welcome developments that will help move us toward a more inclusive state government,” said Senator Cano (D-Dist. 8, Pawtucket).
Legislation (2020-H 2759) sponsored by Senator Cano and cosponsored by Senator Quezada would develop and institute cultural competency training for all state employees to ensure they understand how institutions and individuals can respectfully respond to people of all races, languages, economic backgrounds and genders, and veterans and those with disabilities. The Senate passed the bill last year, and the senators are working to achieve full passage of this year’s bill when legislators return to session this summer. Rep. Evan P. Shanley (D-Dist. 24, Warwick) introduced companion legislation (2019-H 5423) in the House last year, and intends to introduce it again when the General Assembly returns this summer.
The RIse Together plan announced by the governor today directs the Department of Administration to institute mandatory implicit bias training for all Executive Branch employees and to create a plan for more comprehensive equity training.
“While it’s important to enact cultural competency training requirements in state law to ensure compliance into the future, we are so encouraged that the governor is taking this action today to put this training in place now. We’re glad there’s agreement about the importance of all Rhode Islanders being able to feel understood and valued every time they interact with state offices,” said Senator Quezada (D-Dist. 2, Providence).
The governor also announced that the Department of Administration is currently undergoing a comprehensive study of all state contracting practices to ensure that minority-owned businesses have an equal shot at procurement opportunities.
As a member of the Joint Legislative COVID-19 Emergency Spending Task Force, Senator Cano called into question the state’s failure to include any minority-owned businesses in the $34 million in contracts for surge hospitals. Senator Quezada also supports ensuring fair opportunities for minority-owned businesses.
“I look forward to being part of the solution to achieve equity for minority business enterprises so they have a fair opportunity to participate in the procurement process,” added Senator Cano.