January 18, 2019

Free property for veterans? Tammy Duckworth has a new law for that

Source: Journal Star


U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth is hoping veterans who operate small businesses take advantage of a new law giving them access to surplus government property.

The measure that she sponsored, which was signed into law earlier this month by President Donald Trump, adds those veterans onto the list of eligible groups to get federal surplus personal property for free.

“You’d be surprised at how much stuff the federal government owns and how much it’s costing to warehouse it,” Duckworth said in a phone interview from Capitol Hill on Wednesday.

The notion of the Veterans Small Business Enhancement Act had been developing in her mind for several years of work with veteran entrepreneurs, she said, from her time working at the Department of Veterans Affairs through setting up her own congressional district office.

When the latter occurred, Duckworth said, she made a point to use federal surplus property rather than new material.

Later, the idea expanded and became more refined after hearing from some veterans who wanted to go into farming. The bipartisan legislation includes as a small business those veterans who operate family farms.

And the surplus material is varied enough to help them, too, Duckworth said, citing warehouses filled with material from laptops to shovels to filing cabinets to earth-moving equipment like Bobcat skid-steer loaders and backhoes “that are sitting there.”

The law prohibits any resale of material.

“They must put it to use in their business,” she said. “They cannot turn around and put it on eBay, for example.”

Applicants must be certified as a veteran-owned small business to access the program.

Already on the eligible list for that property are women and minority small business owners, as well as veterans service organizations.

By:  Chris Kaergard