A bill that would redefine “minority” to include Hispanics so they may receive minority business advantages and that would, according to some Atlantans, encourage foreign companies to invest here, was re-introduced as an amendment to a Georgia state senate bill in an unprecedented move by Gov. Roy Barnes.

“To have a state that has opened its arms for all would be a ‘carrot’ for international companies to locate here,” the commissioner of human relations at the governor’s office, Brenda Cornelius, told GlobalFax at a press conference at the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (GHCC) last Friday.

“This bill could encourage Latino entrepreneurs, whether foreign or local, to set up their businesses here,” agreed Hipolito Goico, chairman of the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (GHCC), co-founder of the Georgia Hispanic Bar Association and attorney at Goico and Bolet law firm. “It would open doors for Latino contractors to bid for contracts that require minority involvement.”

The bill died in the Georgia House of Representatives last Wednesday, but after a group of influential Hispanics in Atlanta met with the governor’s office, Gov. Barnes personally offered an amendment to Senate Bill 607, which outlines requirements for business tax credits, to include the complete language of the minority bill, House Bill 738.

Mr. Goico; Sam Zamarripa, chairman of the Latin American Association; Sara Gonzalez, president of the GHCC; Ana Cablik, president of Anatek Inc. and member of the GHCC presented the case to the governor’s office.

The president of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC), Ramon Rodriguez, extended his support of the bill at the GHCC press conference last Friday, in part, because it would validate the USHCC annual convention coming here in September.

          HB 607 may be heard by the Senate Rules Committee as early as March 13 before proceeding to the full Senate for a vote.  Assuming the Bill passes the Senate, it will likely return to the House of Representatives to be voted on once again.

          The GHCC encourages readers to contact their state representatives to support HB 607. Representatives’ phone numbers and links to their email and addresses can be found at www.legis.state.ga.us/Legis/2001_02/leg/legislation.htm or call the GHCC at (404) 929-9998.