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Bill would boost state contracts for vet-owned businesses

Senator Mike Delph (R-Carmel) wants each state agency to set aside 10% of its contracts each year for veteran-owned small businesses. 

Governor Mike Pence signed an executive order his first day in office establishing a goal of procuring 3% of state contracts for veteran-owned businesses. 

The 10% goal has the backing of the American Legion in the state. Commander Richard Jewell says that could help reduce veteran unemployment, which is double the state rate.

“Veteran-owned businesses tend to hire veterans.  So we look at this as not only a great opportunity for the veteran-owned businesses in the state of Indiana, but it also has an opportunity to put those newest patriots back to work.”

Senator Greg Taylor (D-Indianapolis) says while help for veteran-owned businesses is needed, the proposed bill may run into constitutional problems.  Taylor says his concerns are based on his experience with a similar program, the minority- and women-owned business preference.

“You have to show a history of disparity in order to have the goal set.  So, in order for this program to hold muster and actually pass legal scrutiny, we need to have a disparity study to include veteran-owned businesses.”

Taylor says until that kind of study can be done, the issue is best left to the governor’s executive order and the state Department of Administration.