A Jackson County legislator will help the state of Missouri take a look at ways to encourage more women-owned and minority-owned businesses to bid on government work.

“I’m very excited,” said Theresa Garza-Ruiz, D-Kansas City.

Gov. Jay Nixon on Wednesday announced he was appointing Garza-Ruiz and 14 others to the Missouri Disparity Oversight Review Committee. Nixon’s office pointed out that Wednesday was the 50th anniversary of the signing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

The Missouri Office of Administration is conducting a study on whether the state is fully utilizing minority-owned and women-owned businesses in its contracts.

Garza-Ruiz has been part of a similar effort at the county level. The County Legislature plans a hearing on the issue later this month. Bid procedures encourage minority-owned and women-owned businesses to compete, but at the county level, officials have said, sometimes no bids from those businesses come forth on some big projects.

The county, and now the state, are trying to find ways to be more inclusive.

The state group first meets next month. Garza-Ruiz is one of two elected officials on the committee, though she also comes to the group through her role as political director of Laborers Local No. 264.

“It seems like a really good group to take a look at what the state’s doing as well,” she said.