MA House Bill Targets “Conflict” Minerals

The Women’s Caucus of the Massachusetts Legislature co-hosted a forum on the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. That conflict is the focus of a bill in the state legislature.

The bill, filed by State Representative Martin Walsh from Dorchester, states the exploitation and trade of minerals from Congo is helping to finance conflict characterized by extreme levels of violence, particularly sexual and gender-based violence. The legislation seeks to identify such minerals and prohibit publicly traded companies — failing to comply with federal law — from contracting with the state. Common items made with these minerals include cellphones and laptops.

Under the federal Dodd-Frank Act of 2010, companies using minerals originating in the Congo are required to disclose the source of the materials and products manufactured. Senator Gale Candaras of Wilbraham is the co-chair of the Women’s Caucus. She says the bill would restrict the state from entering into contracts with corporations failing to meet the Dodd-Frank standards.

“So we’re trying to make sure that Massachusetts doesn’t spend any taxpayer money buying goods and services or entering into contracts and supporting  – inadvertently – these militia groups.”

Candaras says she thinks the legislation has a good chance of passage. and, she says, Hewlett-Packard has been a leader in ensuring the minerals it purchases are from “legitimate” mining operations in the Congo.