On May 2, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley signed into law the Maryland State Procurement and Congo Conflict Minerals Bill, making Maryland the second state to pass such legislation.
The law addresses the link between the minerals in electronics products and the ongoing violence in eastern Congo. It requires that the state of Maryland does not conduct business with companies that fail to comply with the federal laws on conflict minerals passed in 2010 as a provision of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act. This provision requires publicly listed companies that use conflict minerals—defined as tin, tantalum, tungsten, and gold—to disclose whether or not they source the material from the Democratic Republic of Congo or any of its neighboring countries. Further, it requires that if companies are sourcing from this region that they engage in due diligence measures to determine if their procurement is directly or indirectly financing armed conflict.
The state law adds a powerful incentive for companies to comply with federal law by denying them procurement contracts with the state of Maryland if found to be negligent. State Delegate Shane Robinson from Maryland’s 39th District in Montgomery, County, who introduced the bill, has led the way for a conflict-free Maryland.
"This law shows that Maryland cares about the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo and that we have a responsibility to do business with companies that value the social consequences of their decisions," Robinson said. "Hopefully, more state legislatures will pass similar laws that send a message that corporations must be held accountable for social, economic, and environmental impacts at home and abroad in order to earn state contracts.”
The continuous passage of state-level legislation in the U.S. shows a growing commitment from consumers and lawmakers to demand that elected officials and corporate citizens be held responsible for the global impact of investment and supply chain management. Nowhere is this more important than in eastern Congo, where this demand is manifesting itself in the creation of a reformed mineral sector that will support community and economic growth and decrease violent conflict driven by the trade of conflict minerals.
Maryland is the second state to pass conflict minerals legislation, following California which passed a similar law last year. Conflict minerals state legislation is also currently under consideration in Massachusetts.
Photo: Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley signs the Maryland State Procurement and Congo Conflict Minerals Bill into law (Chloe Christman/Enough Project).