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1/24/2014 Fellela aims to give returning soldiers, veterans platform for economic opportunity
STATE HOUSE – Perpetual unemployment is not the kind of prospect deserving of those who have so bravely served our country and returned home. But without much of a means to support themselves and their families, that is the reality many veterans and active duty officers are facing when they step off the plane at T.F. Green Airport. Rep. Deborah A. Fellela is aiming to change that with legislation that would create a veterans’ preference in state contracts.

“As noted in my bill, this state’s policy is to support the ‘fullest possible participation of firms owned and controlled by individuals actively serving or veterans in state-funded and state-directed public construction programs, projects and in state purchases of goods and services,’” said Representative Fellela (D-Dist. 43, Johnston). “We’re essentially asking our friends and family to risk their lives for us and muster this overwhelming sense of courage, only to come back home and find nothing for them. Maybe if we give veterans and active duty members more incentive to start their own businesses, they will be less afraid to take risks and create opportunities for themselves. We want Rhode Island’s image to continue to evolve in a more positive direction.”

The legislation (2014-H 7074) would push the state to ensure that at least 3 percent of the total value of all contracts available to businesses in each fiscal year goes to veteran-owned businesses. The state Department of Administration, in consultation with the division of veterans’ affairs, would be responsible for establishing related rules and regulation formulas for giving veteran-owned small businesses a preference in contract and subcontract awards.

The Department of Administration would also be responsible for producing an annual report on veteran business owners’ use of this economic opportunity. Cosponsors of the legislation include Representatives Raymond E. Gallison Jr. (D-Dist. 69, Bristol, Portsmouth), Samuel A. Azzinaro (D-Dist. 37, Westerly), James N. McLaughlin (D-Dist. 57, Cumberland, Central Falls) and Mary Messier (D-Dist. 62, Pawtucket). It has been referred to the House Committee on Small Business.

For more information, contact:
Brenna McCabe, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 222-2457