The statewide and interlocal agreement on certification of business concerns for the status of minority business enterprise is hereby enacted and entered into with all jurisdictions or organizations legally joining therein. If, within 2 years from the date that the certification core criteria are approved by the 1Department of Labor and Employment Security, the agreement included herein is not executed by a majority of county and municipal governing bodies that administer a minority business assistance program on the effective date of this act, then the Legislature shall review this agreement. It is the intent of the Legislature that if the agreement is not executed by a majority of the requisite governing bodies, then a statewide uniform certification process should be adopted, and that said agreement should be repealed and replaced by a mandatory state government certification process.
PURPOSE, FINDINGS, AND POLICY.—
(1) The parties to this agreement, desiring by common action to establish a uniform certification process in order to reduce the multiplicity of applications by business concerns to state and local governmental programs for minority business assistance, declare that it is the policy of each of them, on the basis of cooperation with one another, to remedy social and economic disadvantage suffered by certain groups, resulting in their being historically underutilized in ownership and control of commercial enterprises. Thus, the parties seek to address this history by increasing the participation of the identified groups in opportunities afforded by government procurement.
(2) The parties find that the State of Florida presently certifies firms for participation in the minority business assistance programs of the state. The parties find further that some counties, municipalities, school boards, special districts, and other divisions of local government require a separate, yet similar, and in most cases redundant certification in order for businesses to participate in the programs sponsored by each government entity.
(3) The parties find further that this redundant certification has proven to be unduly burdensome to the minority-owned firms intended to benefit from the underlying purchasing incentives.
(4) The parties agree that:
(a) They will facilitate integrity, stability, and cooperation in the statewide and interlocal certification process, and in other elements of programs established to assist minority-owned businesses.
(b) They shall cooperate with agencies, organizations, and associations interested in certification and other elements of minority business assistance.
(c) It is the purpose of this agreement to provide for a uniform process whereby the status of a business concern may be determined in a singular review of the business information for these purposes, in order to eliminate any undue expense, delay, or confusion to the minority-owned businesses in seeking to participate in the minority business assistance programs of state and local jurisdictions.
DEFINITIONS.—As used in this agreement and contracts made pursuant to it, unless the context clearly requires otherwise:
(1) “Awarding organization” means any political subdivision or organization authorized by law, ordinance, or agreement to enter into contracts and for which the governing body has entered into this agreement.
(2) “Department” means the 1Department of Labor and Employment Security.
(3) “Minority” means a person who is a lawful, permanent resident of the state, having origins in one of the minority groups as described and adopted by the 1Department of Labor and Employment Security, hereby incorporated by reference.
(4) “Minority business enterprise” means any small business concern as defined in subsection (6) that meets all of the criteria described and adopted by the 1Department of Labor and Employment Security, hereby incorporated by reference.
(5) “Participating state or local organization” means any political subdivision of the state or organization designated by such that elects to participate in the certification process pursuant to this agreement, which has been approved according to s. 287.0943(3) and has legally entered into this agreement.
(6) “Small business concern” means an independently owned and operated business concern which is of a size and type as described and adopted by vote related to this agreement of the commission, hereby incorporated by reference.
STATEWIDE AND INTERLOCAL CERTIFICATIONS.—
(1) All awarding organizations shall accept a certification granted by any participating organization which has been approved according to s. 287.0943(3) and has entered into this agreement, as valid status of minority business enterprise.
(2) A participating organization shall certify a business concern that meets the definition of minority business enterprise in this agreement, in accordance with the duly adopted eligibility criteria.
(3) All participating organizations shall issue notice of certification decisions granting or denying certification to all other participating organizations within 14 days of the decision. Such notice may be made through electronic media.
(4) No certification will be granted without an onsite visit to verify ownership and control of the prospective minority business enterprise, unless verification can be accomplished by other methods of adequate verification or assessment of ownership and control.
(5) The certification of a minority business enterprise pursuant to the terms of this agreement shall not be suspended, revoked, or otherwise impaired except on any grounds which would be sufficient for revocation or suspension of a certification in the jurisdiction of the participating organization.
(6) The certification determination of a party may be challenged by any other participating organization by the issuance of a timely written notice by the challenging organization to the certifying organization’s determination within 10 days of receiving notice of the certification decision, stating the grounds therefor.
(7) The sole accepted grounds for challenge shall be the failure of the certifying organization to adhere to the adopted criteria or the certifying organization’s rules or procedures, or the perpetuation of a misrepresentation or fraud by the firm.
(8) The certifying organization shall reexamine its certification determination and submit written notice to the applicant and the challenging organization of its findings within 30 days after the receipt of the notice of challenge.
(9) If the certification determination is affirmed, the challenging agency may subsequently submit timely written notice to the firm of its intent to revoke certification of the firm.
APPROVED AND ACCEPTED PROGRAMS.—Nothing in this agreement shall be construed to repeal or otherwise modify any ordinance, law, or regulation of a party relating to the existing minority business assistance provisions and procedures by which minority business enterprises participate therein.
TERM.—The term of the agreement shall be 5 years, after which it may be reexecuted by the parties.
AGREEMENT EVALUATION.—The designated state and local officials may meet from time to time as a group to evaluate progress under the agreement, to formulate recommendations for changes, or to propose a new agreement.
OTHER ARRANGEMENTS.—Nothing in this agreement shall be construed to prevent or inhibit other arrangements or practices of any party in order to comply with federal law.
EFFECT AND WITHDRAWAL.—
(1) This agreement shall become effective when properly executed by a legal representative of the participating organization, when enacted into the law of the state and after an ordinance or other legislation is enacted into law by the governing body of each participating organization. Thereafter it shall become effective as to any participating organization upon the enactment of this agreement by the governing body of that organization.
(2) Any party may withdraw from this agreement by enacting legislation repealing the same, but no such withdrawal shall take effect until one year after the governing body of the withdrawing party has given notice in writing of the withdrawal to the other parties.
(3) No withdrawal shall relieve the withdrawing party of any obligations imposed upon it by law.
(1) A participating organization shall not be financially responsible or liable for the obligations of any other participating organization related to this agreement.
(2) The provisions of this agreement shall constitute neither a waiver of any governmental immunity under Florida law nor a waiver of any defenses of the parties under Florida law. The provisions of this agreement are solely for the benefit of its executors and not intended to create or grant any rights, contractual or otherwise, to any person or entity.
VENUE AND GOVERNING LAW.—The obligations of the parties to this agreement are performable only within the county where the participating organization is located, and statewide for the Office of Supplier Diversity, and venue for any legal action in connection with this agreement shall lie, for any participating organization except the Office of Supplier Diversity, exclusively in the county where the participating organization is located. This agreement shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws and court decisions of the state.
CONSTRUCTION AND SEVERABILITY.—This agreement shall be liberally construed so as to effectuate the purposes thereof. The provisions of this agreement shall be severable and if any phrase, clause, sentence, or provision of this agreement is declared to be contrary to the State Constitution or the United States Constitution, or the application thereof to any government, agency, person, or circumstance is held invalid, the validity of the remainder of this agreement and the applicability thereof to any government, agency, person, or circumstance shall not be affected thereby. If this agreement shall be held contrary to the State Constitution, the agreement shall remain in full force and effect as to all severable matters.