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Proposed Legislation Would Boost Veterans’ Involvement in Federal Infrastructure ProjectsAmericans owe a debt of gratitude to our veterans for their brave service to their country. However, that gratitude is not always evident when it comes to some of the obstacles they face when they return from combat and transition back into civilian life. A group of bipartisan lawmakers as introduced new legislation last year that would require states to offer a percentage of construction jobs related to transportation projects to veterans. According to the measure, “Fairness to Veterans for Infrastructure Investment Act” (H.R. 1694), states that receive federal funding for transportation projects must include veteran-owned businesses in their contracting processes.

Currently, there are certain businesses get a preference when dealing with government transportation agencies. Veterans do not enjoy the same preference.

The bill was introduced by Reps. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Cheri Bustos (D-IL) and Don Young (R-AK), who have said that there are 380,000 veteran-owned construction firms that could contribute to transportation projects across the United States. The intention of the legislation is to level the playing field for veteran-owned businesses when it comes to competing for government contracts. In a statement, Rep. Fitzpatrick said, “With more than 75 percent of current veteran business owners over the age 55, it is critical we empower the next generation of veteran-owned businesses to get to work upgrading our nation’s roads, rails and bridges.” And Bustos said, “Rebuilding our nation’s transportation infrastructure is essential to growing our economy and creating jobs.”

The Fairness to Veterans for Infrastructure Investment Act would work hand in hand with another piece of legislation that was passed recently, The Surface Transportation Reauthorization & Reform Act of 2015, which is a $325 billion infrastructure bill. The new Fairness to Veterans Act would allow veteran-owned small businesses (VSOBs) to compete for those contracts. Fitzpatrick said, “With more than 250,000 service members transitioning each year from the military to civilian life, and about one-quarter of veterans saying they are interested in starting or buying their own business, this Congress can lay the foundation for them to succeed in the private sector.”

The legislation was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives with the support of a super-majority in Congress and the American Legion with 2.3 million members. A story in The Hill calls for the Senate to take action on this legislation.

We at McGowan, Hood & Felder, LLC, support all efforts to create new economic opportunities that would benefit our active and veteran service members at home in South Carolina and throughout the country. Contact us today for more information, or call 803-327-7800.

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