Support veteran owned businesses at the State Capitol
WHAT: HB 2318
Where and When: Thursday, February 02, 2012 Room 309 9:00 A.M.
HB2318 is being heard in Public Safety & Military Affairs tomorrow at 9 a.m. The bill requires the Governor to enter into a memorandum of understanding with the U.S. Department of Defense to provide continued support for the military's presence in Hawaii.
* * * * *
Alika Wietecha capped more than two decades of service to his country with a 14-month deployment to Iraq. But when he returned to Hawaii and launched a commercial and residential landscaping company, the retired U.S. Army reservist struggled to gain traction in the business world.
Wietecha's situation is far too common, unfortunately. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 13.1 percent of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan were unemployed last December, compared to 8.5 percent of the general population.
Fortunately, Wietecha's hard work was eventually rewarded when he earned a state government contract that forms a key part of his AM Landscaping business in Kapolei.
Now Republicans in the Hawaii Legislature want to help more residents like Wietecha by introducing four bills that give preference to military veterans – especially veterans with service-related disabilities – when they apply for government business.
America's servicemen and servicewomen possess great skills, integrity and discipline. Helping them compete for government contracts, as 23 states already do, is a fitting way to demonstrate Hawaii's support.
Our state gives an edge to veterans who apply for public service jobs. And we offer contract preferences for small businesses that sell made-in-Hawaii products, products containing recycled materials and products created by community rehabilitation agencies. We are remiss, however, in not providing preferences when veterans compete for government contracts.
Nationwide, veterans own an estimated 3 million businesses, including 10,300 in Hawaii. By dedicating just three percent of our state contracts to companies operated by qualified military veterans, Hawaii would provide $33 million in much-needed state support each year.
HB 1996, HB 2057, HB 2318 and SB 2582 are four bills that would help our veterans win state contracts. Tomorrow, HB 2318 will be heard in the House Public Safety and Military Affairs Committee. You can support this bill by submitting testimony online or coming down to the State Capitol to testify in person. If you would like to submit testimony online, please visit: http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/measure_indiv.aspx?billtype=HB&billnumber=2318.
If you would like to testify in person, the hearing will be held tomorrow in State Capitol Room 309 at 9 a.m.
With America's involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan winding down, an increasing number of our servicemen and servicewomen are returning home and entering or re-entering the private sector.
Many of these veterans made extraordinary sacrifices on our behalf. Helping them succeed in business is an appropriate – and long overdue – way of expressing Hawaii's gratitude.