Jan. 19, 2006-- Disabled veteran business owners in California, including those who recently served in Afghanistan and Iraq, may soon have greater opportunity to bid for state contracts, as a new bill makes its way through Sacramento.

The State Assembly's Committee on Veterans Affairs voted 6-1 in favor of the bill authored by Speaker Pro Tem Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/Daly City), which would give qualified Disabled Veterans Business Enterprises (DVBEs) a 10% bid preference on state contracts.

Bid preferences that are given to small businesses have proven effective in increasing their ability to compete fairly for state contracts, Yee said in a written statement.

DVBEs have continuously fallen short of their current 3% participation goal, according to annual reports by the state Department of General Services.

The existing law gives small businesses in general a 5% bid preference with state contracts. The new bill, which would raise the participation of DVBEs to 10%, aims to boost their competitiveness for state contracts for goods and services.

"Many veterans are finding it harder and harder to obtain decent-paying jobs, and thus decide to go into business to support their families," Sheryl Shaffer, chairwoman of the Veterans Employment Committee of San Mateo County, said in a statement. "This bill provides this opportunity."

This bill would be available to all disabled veterans in California, including veterans returning from recent deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"The men and women in uniform who have been disabled in the course of their service to our country deserve some assistance in their transition to civilian business life," Yee said.

Currently, there are 827 certified DVBEs in the state of California.