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In this article we look at the proposed legislation to help disabled veterans who own o roperate a business in Texas:
State Representative Ryan Guillen (D-Rio Grande City) has proposed House Bill 888 which will provide contractual preference (positive discrimination) in favor of businesses owned or operated by disabled American veterans. The legislation will add amendments to existing positive discrimination laws which have been used to help minority members who own businesses gain contracts from the State government.
The law specifically revolves around HUBs – Historically Under-utilized Businesses.
Providing a HUB is at least majority owned by a disabled American veteran then it will qualify for benefit under the new law. A majority stake means at least 51% ownership. Previously, the HUB program was used for economically disadvantaged groups and minorities which mean you had to be a woman, a member of a racial minority group or a group which was recognized as economically disadvantaged.
Supporters point to the reports by the State Comptroller of over $6 billion in State government contracts being awarded to HUBs since 2008. Others point out that Texas is way behind other states in implementing such programs to help disabled veterans and veteran business owners. Jim Brennan is an Army veteran and runs AAUSA Electric Supply, however he has been highly skeptical of the new legislation. In his opinion, even the new legislation is not providing enough assistance to those disabled veterans who are looking to make a difference to the commercial life of the state and that Texas is not doing enough to help probably the most important, disadvantaged minority in the country – the state’s disabled veterans.
State Representative Guillen has previously sponsored legislation which saw the Texas veterans Commission budget increased by $13 million and allowed for the addition of a further 181 staff to that body. In addition, he introduced security legislation which saw the allocation of $110 million to Border Security initiatives and programs and he also serves on the Texas House of Representatives Border Legislative Conference. Guillen also supported a bill which relieved veterans of the post-9/11 conflicts from paying tuition fees at Texas state educational institutions and universities.