Disabled veterans who live in Nebraska would receive a preference when competing for state contracts under a bill presented Friday to a legislative committee.
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Disabled veterans who live in Nebraska would receive a preference when competing for state contracts under a bill presented Friday to a legislative committee.
Sen. Charlie Janssen of Fremont, a veteran himself, pitched the proposal to the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee.
The bill would give a competitive edge to resident, disabled veterans who are vying for state contracts against other resident and nonresident bidders. The federal government has enacted similar preferences.
"Our nation's veterans have unique and exceptional skills sets," Janssen said. "They're highly motivated and goal-driven. They're accountable and deliver in pressure situations."
Supporters of the bill say veterans acquire valuable skills in the military, but the service also robs them of time when they could have been working in the private sector or building a business. A group that represents Nebraska public-works contractors opposes the measure, arguing that it picks favorites who may offer services at a higher cost.
The bill would apply to Nebraska residents who served in the U.S. armed forces, including the National Guard and the reserves, was discharged under honorable conditions and has a service-related disability. Disabled veterans would still have to qualify as state bidders to receive the preference.
Shane Osborn, a spokesman for the American Ex-Prisoners of War Organization, said the recent recession has created an even greater challenge to veterans who have just left the service.
"When you come back, you're 30 years old and going up against somebody who's 23 or 24 who may even have an MBA," said Osborn, a former Nebraska state treasurer. "There are some competitive disadvantages, I think, and that's what this bill really focuses on."
The Nebraska Chapter of the Associated General Contractors of America opposes the measure, said Curtis Smith, the group's executive director. Smith's group represents highway contractors.
"Almost all of our contractors deal with public-domain contracts, and we see that the public good is best served with open and level contracting, no preferences involved," Smith said.
Several bidder-preference bills are floating around the Legislature this year. Sen. Heath Mello of Omaha has introduced a bill dubbed the "Buy Nebraska Act" that would give in-state companies an edge over out-of-state bidders. The state awards more than $2 billion in contracts for goods and services each year.
The bill is LB224
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