Had To Write It….

On June 5, 2014, in Veterans, by tommy

… before the session ended. And that’s OK; the VFW State Convention starts today and it’ll be interesting to hear what’s reported up there before I report what happened (or, didn’t) during the 2014 legislative session in St. Paul. So, the Legislative recap will be in July’s newsletter. Here’s what went out to Post and Auxiliary Membership for June:

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As of this writing, the Minnesota Legislature is still in session and several issues affecting Veterans have not been resolved. What we do know so far is that the priority ranking of Veterans and Spouses/Widows for entry into Minnesota’s five Veterans Homes will not be considered this year. The House Veterans Committee Chair, Mary Murphy, indicated there will continue to be conversations on this when the new Legislature convenes next January, so it is very important as we head into election season to tell your Representatives – and, their challengers – that the VFW as an organization opposes these changes to admittance into our Veterans Homes. The VFW worked hard to stop these changes – one reason being that war is hell on the home front, too – and apparently, our work is not done.

To find contact information for your State Representative and State Senator, >http://www.leg.state.mn.us/leg/districtfinder.aspx.

We are also tracking how much money is appropriated for our Veterans Homes for maintenance and asset preservation. Governor Dayton recommended the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs (MDVA) receive a little over $4 million from bonding this year. It looks like the House and Senate may not agree – and may actually use some of the money to build Veterans Memorials in North St. Paul and Edina instead of taking care of Veterans facilities. While the VFW is appreciative of building Veterans memorials, we do not feel that they should be at the expense of delivering services to Veterans.

While the VFW would prefer – it’s actually a legislative goal – to eliminate the state income tax on military retirement pay, the Legislature is looking at increasing the tax credit amount from $750 to $1,500 for individuals who separated from military service before the end of the year and served at least 20 years in the military, had a service-connected disability rating of 100 percent total and permanent, or were honorably discharged and receive a pension or other retirement pay for service in the military. While it’s not what we want, it is better than nothing and for that we are appreciative.

Another legislative accomplishment is passage of HF2365. Professional licensing boards will be required to expedite license processing for former and current members of the military. This passed the House on a vote of 123-0, and will make it easier for Veterans to use their military skills to gain similar employment as civilians.

A full legislative recap will be included in our next newsletter. As we welcome John Suckerman as our Post’s new Quartermaster, I will continue to cover legislation as our Post’s – and also VFW 7th District’s – Legislative Officer.
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