Military veterans who own small businesses would be given preference in bidding for state contracts for goods and services, under a bill approved by the House Agriculture, Rural Economies and Veterans Affairs Committee Feb. 15.
Sponsored by Rep. Dan Severson (R-Sauk Rapids), HF2809 would expand the preference from women, minorities, the disabled and those that served in active service since Sept. 11 to include all military veterans. The bill caps the total number of veterans’ preference contracts at 6 percent.
A similarly focused bill passed last year, but was revised to only include those who became veterans after Sept. 11, Severson said. “We have received correspondence from some Vietnam veterans, some Desert Storm, Gulf War veterans who say, ‘Why are you discriminating against us?’” he said.
Opponents may say there isn’t enough room for both veteran’s companies and those already considered, but current businesses only comprise about 2.5 percent of contracts awarded, Severson said. “I think there is plenty for everyone.”
“It’s not giving them a job, it’s just letting them be able to bid on the job,” said Jerry Kyser, vice chairman of the United Veterans Legislative Council of Minnesota. While current law allows younger veterans to take advantage of the preference, many of those younger veterans don’t own a business capable of handling a state contract, he said.
The bill now goes to the House Finance Committee. There is no Senate companion.
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