Bill to Boost Small Businesses Approved 10-3

Contact: Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Media Relations Director, 510-926-4022; 415-846-7758 (cell)

SACRAMENTO – Yesterday afternoon the Assembly Utilities and Commerce Committee passed AB 865, the EmPower California Act, by a vote of 10-3, with two members not voting. The bill by Assemblymember Luis Alejo (D-Salinas) would set up a program to encourage recipients of California Energy Commission grants or loans to boost procurement from business enterprises owned by women, minorities, disabled veterans, and LGBTQ individuals. The program would expand on the success of similar programs overseen by the California Public Utilities Commission and the California Department of Insurance.

“The EmPower California Act will drive clean energy investment in underserved communities and involve all of California’s diverse communities in the drive to meet our clean energy goals,” said Greenlining Institute Environmental Equity Program Manager Sekita Grant, who testified in support of the bill. “AB 865 will boost entrepreneurship, which is key to the American dream.”

“This bill will work to create relationships between the energy industry and minority groups,” said Assemblymember Alejo. “This means minority owned businesses will have increased opportunities for job growth and a fair chance to obtain contracts with major corporations.”

Simeon Gant, executive director of Green Technical Education & Employment in Sacramento, also spoke in favor of the bill, saying, “This bill is an important step forward, providing needed encouragement for businesses and organizations to increase economic development among communities that traditionally have been underserved.”

AB 865 next moves to the Assembly Committee on Jobs, Economic Development, and the Economy, where it will be heard later this month.