BRAINERD – Area residents and legislators met Thursday in Brainerd to discuss changes in law benefiting military veterans, including one of the largest veteran tax cuts in state history enacted last month.
Reps. Bob Dettmer, R-Forest Lake, Josh Heintzeman, R-Nisswa, and Dale Lueck, R-Aitkin, co-hosted the event. Dettmer chairs the House Veterans Affairs Division. The three worked to produce what many are hailing as historic achievements regarding veterans' benefits, health care, entrepreneurships, honors and more.
Among numerous newly enacted laws, the cornerstone accomplishment exempts military retirement benefits from state income taxes. There also is $17 million in increased funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs and state veterans homes, a state-based veteran-owned small business certification program and a new Established Military Spouses and Families Day to honor military families.
"Over the last two years, the Legislature has done great work prioritizing our servicemen and women, making it easier for them to live, work, and raise a family here in Minnesota," Heintzeman said. "I'm grateful for the work done by Chair Dettmer and the members of the Veterans Affairs Division, and for the bipartisan support for this historic tax cut that honors the service of our veterans and helps them keep the pension they earned serving our country."
Lueck said he has noted a bipartisan approach on veterans issues in the House and stressed the importance of having both sides of the aisle working for the good men and women who have served our military.
"Our group is probably the most bipartisan committee in the Legislature," said Lueck, a 28-year Navy veteran and a member of the Veterans Affairs Division. "We focus on what is needed. We are not concerned about whose idea it was or who gets the credit. If it's needed, we work together to get it done for our veterans."
Dettmer said he is touring the state meeting with local veteran organizations to clear up confusion about the recently passed veteran tax cut. The provision passed as a part of the supplemental budget bill signed into law, and was not part of the tax bill vetoed recently by Gov. Mark Dayton.
"It's important that we get the word out about this and other important legislation that passed this year," Dettmer said. "We've helped veterans keep the pension they've earned serving our country, made it easier for veterans to start a small business, and made changes to help military members and their families transition back to civilian life. I hope these meetings will help spread awareness about all of the bipartisan veterans legislation passed over the last two years."