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Avella promotes bill for vet-owned businesses

U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (l.) shakes hands with war veteran Benjamin Singer (c.) as he and state Sen. Tony Avella (second from r.) push for veteran-owned business legislation. Photo by Phil Corso
TimesLedger Newspapers

Supporting pro-veteran legislation is something politicians on both sides of the aisle could get behind, one area elected official said last week, but a bill that would boost businesses owned by American’s Bravest in New York still has not been fully backed.

State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) joined with U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (D-Hauppauge) last Thursday sat the John F. Prince Post No. 6478, at 242-37 Braddock Ave. in Bellerose, to voice support for state legislation that would require contracting opportunities be given to veteran-owned businesses, similar to a current federal law.

The legislation, co-sponsored by Avella, would require that 3 percent of all state contracts be secured for veteran business owners, particularly those who were disabled during their service.

“With the unemployment rate among veterans in New York at an all-time high, setting aside 3 percent from the state’s total expenditures of contracts will help boost businesses owned by veterans and help New York veterans transition back into civilian life,” Avella said. “Given the incredible sacrifice, which has been made by our men and women in the armed forces who have bravely served during a time of war, we must honor their service in as many ways as possible, including helping them succeed in business.”

Current federal law requires that 3 percent of the federal government’s procurement budget be directed to veteran-owned businesses. These businesses, Avella said, qualify if they are 51 percent owned by a veteran and have annual gross sales of less than $75 million.

Avella said he was working on the issue with Israel, who has promoted tax credits for hiring veterans and incentives for veteran-owned businesses. Israel, who will represent communities in northeast Queens if re-elected in November, said there was a common sense way to approach the issue on the state level.

“Our veterans valiantly served our country and many come home with the hopes of starting a small business,” Israel said. “We should be supporting their goals and help these vet-repreneurs succeed.”

Bellerose war veteran Evel Morales became emotional while thanking the elected officials for voicing support for veteran entrepreneurs.

“Veterans have a lot of talent that we can offer to New York state,” Morales said.

The state measure, Avella said, has been held up due to partisan politics after being referred to the Senate Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs Committee.

“Republican leadership has stopped this from going on to a committee vote,” Avella said. “There is no reason we couldn’t have passed this.”

While pushing his strong pro-veteran platform during his more than 10 years representing Long Island, Israel said he and his staff rolled out the figurative red carpet whenever an area veteran entered his office.

“This is something Democrats and Republicans should all be able to agree on in a second,” Israel said. “Veterans are worth the fight because they did the fighting for us.”

Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at pcorso@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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