Veteran preference in public contracts amended, advanced

Lawmakers gave second-round approval May 30 to a bill intended to help veterans secure public contracts.

As introduced by Fremont Sen. Charlie Janssen, LB224 would provide a preference for a resident disabled veteran over any other resident or nonresident bidder when a public contract is to be awarded to the lowest responsible bidder.

Omaha Sen. Heath Mello offered an amendment during select file debate May 29 that would add businesses located in a designated enterprise zone under the state’s Enterprise Zone Act to the bill’s provisions.

Mello said the zones, which include sections of north and south Omaha as well as rural areas of the state, are defined as distressed areas where unemployment and poverty rates are higher than the national average. The state should seek economic development by encouraging individuals from these areas to compete for state contracts as well, he said.

The amendment was adopted 29-0.

When debate resumed May 30, Janssen offered an amendment that he said arose from concerns raised during discussion the previous day regarding the bill’s structure, definitions and possible unintended consequences.

The amendment, adopted 42-0, replaced the bill.

As amended, LB224 would be limited to state contracts and defines a resident disabled veteran as an individual who:
• resides in Nebraska;
• was honorably discharged from the U.S. Armed Forces, including reserve or National Guard;
• possesses a disability letter establishing a service-connected disability;
• owns a business or, in the case of a publicly owned business, owns more than 50 percent of the stock; and
• controls the management and daily operation of a qualifying business.

Following adoption 40-0 of a technical amendment offered by Omaha Sen. Ernie Chambers, lawmakers advanced the bill to final reading by voice vote.

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