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Minnesota Legislature

Veterans’ business preference

Published (4/8/2010)
By Patty Ostberg
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Certain military veterans who own small businesses are given preference in bidding for state contracts for goods and services. A bill that would have expanded that preference to all veterans failed on a 6 to 4 vote March 25 by the House State Government Finance Division.

Sponsored by Rep. Dan Severson (R-Sauk Rapids), HF2809 would expand the preference from women, minorities, the disabled and those who served in active service since Sept. 11, 2001, to include all military veterans. The bill would cap the total number of veterans’ preference contracts at 6 percent.

“We have received correspondence from some Vietnam veterans, some Desert Storm, Gulf War veterans who say, ‘Why are you discriminating against us?’” Severson said.

Division Chairwoman Rep. Phyllis Kahn (DFL-Mpls) said a proper study would be needed to determine if there is a problem with certain veterans not receiving their share of contracts. New and disabled veterans were added to those with preference without a study because the need was so visible, she said. Florida is the only state that gives preference to all veterans, she added.

“It’s the Vietnam-era veterans and it’s the Gulf War veterans who have the companies that want to hire these men and women,” 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 these younger veterans don’t own a business capable of handling a state contract, he said.

A companion, SF3234, sponsored by Sen. Chris Gerlach (R-Apple Valley), awaits action by the Senate State and Local Government Operations and Oversight Committee.

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