Senate passes set asides for disabled vets who own businesses

State lawmakers have passed legislation to guarantee state contracts for disabled veterans who own businesses.

The state Senate Monday passed the measure Monday.The Assembly took it up the next day and approved it. Both of Oneida County's senators were cosponsors of the measure. In the Assembly, it was cosponsored by Assemblyman Anthony J. Brindisi, D-119, Utica.

The action follows Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's last week that he and legislative leaders had reached an agreement on the preference. The bill would set aside 6 percent of state contracts for small businesses owned by veterans disabled during their service.

"I support this legislation because it offers a real opportunity for those with a service-connected disability to start a second career here," said Sen. Joseph A. Griffo, R-47, Rome, in a statement after the Senate vote. "I am pleased that New York has joined the federal government and 40 other states in offering a helping hand to these small business owners."

The federal government offers a 3 percent preference for awarding contracts to veteran-owned businesses.

"I am pleased to cosponsor this legislation, and am confident that, in addition to helping the brave men and women who have sacrificed for our nation, it will also help New York state as a whole," said Sen. David J. Valesky, D-53, Oneida, in a statement. "It is time for us to join the federal government and a majority of other states in providing our veterans with this well-deserved opportunity."

The proposed state legislation would also create a Division of Service-Disabled Veterans' Business Development inside the Office of General Services that would coordinate the program and encourage state agencies to provide additional opportunities for veterans to obtain state contracts.

"For decades, military servicemen and women have been the bedrock of the Mohawk Valley, and they continue to be an integral part of the fabric of life in our region," said Brindisi. "Supporting the businesses of our service-disabled veterans is the right thing to do and will help build a stronger Mohawk Valley."

This is not the first time this issue has come up in New York state. Gov. David Paterson vetoed a similar bill in 2010. Some Democrats were concerned then that set asides for veterans would interfere with preferences for women- and minority-owned businesses.