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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Rob Ecklund (DFL)

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RELEASE: Gov. Walz signs Rep. Ecklund’s bill supporting Minnesota veterans into law

Thursday, June 2, 2022

SAINT PAUL, Minn. – Today on the State Capitol grounds, Governor Tim Walz held a ceremonial bill signing for the Veterans & Military Affairs Finance bill. The legislation, authored in the House by Rep. Rob Ecklund (DFL – International Falls), invests significant new funding to address veteran homelessness, provides additional funding for Minnesota’s new veterans homes, and offers service bonuses to those who served during the post-9/11 Global War on Terror.

“I’m deeply grateful for the bipartisan support our Veterans finance bill earned at the Capitol, but I’m more grateful for the courageous service and sacrifices by members of our Armed Forces both home and abroad. My colleagues and I recognize our responsibility to ensure everyone who has worn the uniform of our country can have an economically secure future, including a place to call home, and this budget lives up to that expectation,” Rep. Ecklund said. “As we look back at the Memorial Day holiday – when we paused to salute service members who sacrificed all for our nation – we can look forward to the meaningful actions our state can take to strengthen the outlook for those who’ve served and their families.”

The bill continues a three-year effort at the State Capitol to end veteran homelessness. The legislation delivers additional funding toward housing for veterans, including a grant for the Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans to establish permanent housing and support for veterans, additional annual funding for short-term housing, and incentives to encourage landlords to take on veterans as tenants.

The budget includes funding to recognize post-9/11-era veterans with service bonuses of up to $2,000. On Tuesday, Rep. Ecklund joined Governor Walz at the 133rd Airlift Wing of the Minnesota Air National Guard to highlight this portion of the bill. There are approximately 48,000 eligible veterans, over half of whom deployed to combat operations including those in Afghanistan or Iraq. Minnesota has previously recognized veterans’ service in major wars—including World War I, World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam War, and the Persian Gulf War. Gold Star families would also be eligible for these bonuses.

Additionally, the bill increases funding for County Veteran Services Offices, and includes grants to Veteran Service Organizations including the American Legion, the VFW, Disabled American Veterans, and the Order of the Purple Heart.

In recent years, we’ve increased our reliance on the National Guard to mobilize in response to natural disasters, public health emergencies, and situations impacting public safety. To attract additional highly qualified candidates, the bill appropriates additional funding to the Minnesota National Guard for enlistment incentives.

The budget also includes an additional $26.8 million to cover construction costs of new veterans homes in Bemidji, Montevideo and Preston. Lawmakers originally funded construction in 2018’s capital investment bill, and the new investment will help get these projects over the finish line.