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State Representative JoAnn Ward

231 State Office BuildingState Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
651-296-7807

For more information contact: Matt Roznowski 651-296-8875

Posted: May 28 2014 2:31PM
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E-Update

Legislative update: Progress for our Veterans and servicemembers


Dear neighbors,

I hope you and your loved ones had a nice Memorial Day weekend in observance of those who have sacrificed for our nation and our state.

During the 2013-2014 session, the Minnesota Legislature delivered progress for our Veterans, current servicemembers and their families. Here is a list of our bipartisan legislative highlights.

-National Guard income tax exemption: Military income paid to National Guard members in Active Guard/Reserve status now will be treated like other forms of active-duty military pay and exempt from income taxes.

-Homestead of disabled veteran or military member killed in action: Extended the time period for the surviving spouse of a totally disabled veteran to continue to receive the disabled veteran’s property tax benefit from five years to eight years. Provided the same extension for surviving spouses of military personnel who are killed in action.

-Expedited licensing for veterans and military personnel & spouses: Required the state licensing boards to expedite the issuance of professional licenses and certifications to qualified active duty military members, their spouses, or veterans who left service in the prior two years with an honorable or general discharge. Temporary licenses for those same individuals are available while their application for a permanent license is pending.

-Education interstate compact: Entered into the “Educational Opportunity for Military Children Interstate Compact.” Currently, 46 states are members of the compact. The Compact’s goal is to help children of military families, as their parents are deployed or relocated throughout the country, make a more successful transition between school districts by creating a uniform inter-state policy affecting a variety of student-related issues. The average military family moves six to nine times during a career, and the Compact is meant to ensure a seamless transition for military families moving to a new school district by removing barriers to educational success.  

-Veterans’ housing assessment: $250,000 was allocated to conduct a housing needs assessment for veterans. The assessment will examine things like the need for scattered site housing for veterans and their families who are homeless or in danger of homelessness, or other types of housing that address the health care needs of disabled or aging veterans.

-Resident tuition for veterans: All honorably discharged military veterans will be eligible for resident tuition rates at all University of Minnesota and Minnesota State Colleges & Universities (MNSCU) campuses, regardless of their Minnesota resident status.

-Minnesota Veterans Homes: $2 million in bonds was approved for ongoing repair and maintenance at all five veterans’ homes.

-Department of Military Affairs infrastructure upkeep: $2 million for state-wide asset preservation for armories and training facilities.

-Hmong-Lao Veterans Memorial: $450,000 was allocated to construct a memorial in the State Capitol area to honor all Hmong-Lao veterans of the war in Laos who were allied with the American forces during the Vietnam War.

-Hunting/Fishing licenses: Veteran designation on driver’s license & state ID: Created a new program that will enable qualifying veterans (and non-veterans with a qualifying disability) to request that their driver’s license/state ID bear a special designation to make it easier for them to obtain free hunting and fishing licenses.

-Veterans’ Voices Month: Designated October as “Veterans' Voices Month” in order to recognize and celebrate the contributions of veterans. Schools, organizations, and communities are encouraged to hold events and programs that honor veterans, and educate students and citizens about the unique culture of the military by sharing and studying veterans' experiences through stories, essays, poetry, and art from the men and women who have served in the armed forces.

-Military police/Minnesota law enforcement: Made it easier for military personnel with experience as a military police officer (or similar experience) to qualify to sit for the Minnesota Peace Officer Standards and Training Board (POST) examination, which is the exam Minnesotans must pass in order to become a licensed Minnesota law enforcement officer.   

-Women veterans’ license plate: Special motor vehicle license plates will be issued in honor of women veterans.  The plates will bear the inscription “WOMAN VETERAN’ and display an emblem designed by the Commissioner of Veterans Affairs, in consultation with the Commissioner of Public Safety, a representative of the Minnesota Women Veterans Initiative Working Group, and any interested Minnesota veterans service organization.

-Purple Heart motorcycle plate: Established a special “COMBAT WOUNDED VET” motorcycle plate for recipients of the Purple Heart medal.

-Law enforcement de-escalation training for veterans in crisis: $50,000 was appropriated for training state and local community safety personnel in the use of de-escalation techniques for handling veterans in crisis following their return from active military service in a combat zone.

-Unsession: Repealed unnecessary and obsolete laws in order to streamline policies governing military affairs.   

I was proud to work with lawmakers from both sides of the aisle to honor our servicemembers past and present. We made important progress during the past session and I am committed to building on that progress in the years ahead.

Please get in touch with me if you have any questions or comments about the bills we passed in support of our Veterans and servicemembers. I always appreciate hearing from you.

Sincerely,


JoAnn Ward
State Representative, District 53A

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