Legislative update from Steve Green
As we prepare to commemorate Veterans Day on Saturday, I want to say thanks to all those who have answered the call to protect our freedom and this great country. It is good we set aside this day to honor our true American heroes, but please know your efforts are truly appreciated the other 364 days of the year as well.
The Legislature passed into law this year a number of bills to support veterans. Here are some of the highlights:
$1.449 million operational funding increase above base for Veterans Affairs Department programs and services to veterans.
Minnesota GI Bill expanded to include apprenticeship and on-the-job training benefits; and increases educational as well as apprenticeship and on-the-job training benefit amounts.
Increases Support Our Troops individual grant eligibility amounts from $2,000 to $4,000.
$500,000 to the Humanities Center for Veterans Defense Project grants.
Expansion of impersonation of military officer ("stolen valor") to include any military member for the purpose of financial gain
$700,000 for Veterans Journey Home grants.
County boards authorized to appropriate money for veterans memorial anywhere in county.
Those bills we passed follow our significant achievements in the 2015-16 biennium to support veterans. One of the most notable bills from the last biennium just became effective for the 2017 tax filing year, exempting military retirement pay from being taxed.
On another note, this is a good time to talk with kids and help them understand who veterans are and how valuable they are. Our kids may interact with veterans on a daily basis and not even realize it, so let's do our best to share that message.
Thank you once again to those veterans who have sacrificed so much for us.