As used in this section:
(1) "public entity" or "public entities" includes the state and an agency, department, or institution of the state, any governmental unit as defined in section 471.59, the state legislative and judicial branches, and state colleges and universities; and
(2) "items" includes articles, products, supplies, and services.
(a) The commissioner of corrections, in consultation with the commissioner of administration, shall prepare updated lists of the items available for purchase from Department of Corrections industries and annually forward a copy of the most recent list to all public entities within the state. A public entity that is supported in whole or in part with funds from the state treasury may purchase items directly from corrections industries. The bid solicitation process is not required for these purchases.
(b) The commissioner of administration shall develop a contract or contracts to enable public entities to purchase items directly from corrections industries. The commissioner of administration shall require that all requests for bids or proposals, for items provided by corrections industries, be forwarded to the commissioner of corrections to enable corrections industries to submit bids. The commissioner of corrections shall consult with the commissioner of administration prior to introducing new products to the state agency market.
(c) No public entity may evade the intent of this section by adopting slight variations in specifications, when Minnesota corrections industry items meet the reasonable needs and specifications of the public entity.