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Lawmakers hope to boost veteran-owned businesses

A Republican state senator wants each state agency to set aside 10% of its contracts each year for veteran-owned small businesses, a move supporters say the will help reduce veteran unemployment.

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

Proposed legislation would expand that to 10%, something American Legion state commander Richard Jewell says could help reduce veteran unemployment, which is double the state rate.

“Veteran-owned businesses tend to hire veterans,” Jewell said. “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.”

Indianapolis Democratic Senator Greg Taylor 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,” Taylor said. “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.  

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.