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Minnesota Legislature

Contract preference for veterans

Published (3/6/2009)
By Lee Ann Schutz
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Returning veterans face significant hurdles when it comes to business opportunities, and two House members are working together to address the issue.

Under current law, women and minorities are given preference in the letting of state contracts. A new category would provide preference in the state procurement process to businesses that are majority-owned and operated by service-disabled veterans.

Sponsored by Rep. Jerry Newton (DFL-Coon Rapids), HF715 was amended to contain language similar to HF557, sponsored by Rep. Dan Severson (R-Sauk Rapids), that would afford the advantage to all veteran-owned businesses.

Both bills were approved Feb. 27 by the House Veterans Affairs Division and sent to the House Agriculture, Rural Economies and Veterans Affairs Committee.

Before the committee approval, however, HF715 was amended back to its original language offering the preference only to service-disabled veteran owned businesses. Now awaiting action by the House Finance Committee, it also calls for an up to 6 percent preference in the bid amount on state procurement to qualifying service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses. It has no Senate companion.

Newton said that after discussion with Severson, it was determined there were not accurate numbers to determine the fiscal impact if the bill encompassed all veteran-owned businesses.

Severson’s bill is scheduled to be heard by the committee March 9. Its companion, SF861, sponsored by Sen. Chris Gerlach (R-Apple Valley), awaits action by the Senate State and Local Government Operations and Oversight Committee.

Supporters say that returning veterans face their own hardships in attaining contracts because, while they have been serving their country, they have been losing networking time and have been unable to build contacts needed to at least get their foot in the door.

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