Fuentes, Wilson, Conaway & Tucker Bill to Boost Veteran-Owned Businesses or Businesses that Employ Veterans Clears Assembly

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Angel Fuentes, Gilbert L. “Whip” Wilson, Herb Conaway, M.D. and Cleopatra Tucker to authorize a local public contract set-aside program for business enterprises that are owned by or that employ veterans was approved Monday by the Assembly.

“Let’s do what we can to help our veterans stay in business and keep their jobs,” said Fuentes (D-Camden/Gloucester). “We’ve seen shocking levels of unemployment among our veterans, so this is a simple and sensible step toward ensuring we do what we can to honor the sacrifices they’ve made to us.”

The bill (A-1133), which is part of the Assembly Democratic job creation initiative, authorizes the governing body of a county or municipality to establish a qualified veteran business enterprise set-aside program. In authorizing the program, the governing body of a county or municipality would have to establish a goal for its contracting agencies of setting aside a certain percentage of the dollar value of total procurements to be awarded as set-aside contracts to qualified veteran business enterprises.

“Veterans deserve our best,” said Wilson (D-Camden/Gloucester), an Air Force Vietnam veteran. “Anything we can do to help them keep their businesses open or help them keep their jobs is the right thing to do.”

“Giving county and local governments the flexibility to help veterans during this tough economy is the right call,” said Conaway (D-Burlington). “If this can help them keep their doors open or keep them on the job, then let’s do it.”

“Many veterans have a difficult time assimilating back into civilian life. Finding work remains a major obstacle,” said Tucker (D-Essex), who chairs the Assembly Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “This bill creates work opportunities for our veterans so they can provide for themselves and their families.”

The bill was approved 76-0-1 and now awaits further consideration by the Senate.