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Righting a wrong for veterans

Published (2/18/2010)
By Nick Busse
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It would be a small change to the state’s gambling laws, but it would mean a lot for veterans at Stillwater’s American Legion post and elsewhere.

Robert Hart, post adjutant for American Legion Post 48 in Stillwater, said a recent change to a gambling statute prohibited the legion from renting out a pair of apartments it owns. Essentially, the law said they could no longer rent the apartments, which they used as transitional housing for veterans, because the legion uses charitable gambling proceeds to pay for their building’s costs.

Hart said the change deprives the legion of between $1,350 and $1,400 a month in revenue.

“We’ve been struggling to get by in the absence of that ever since that change in the law was made,” he said.

Rep. Julie Bunn (DFL-Lake Elmo) sponsors a bill that would rectify the situation.

HF2422 would change the wording of the law so that veteran or fraternal organizations don’t have to stop renting out portions of their property just because they’re using charitable gambling proceeds to pay for utilities and other building expenses.

The House Commerce and Labor Committee approved the bill Feb. 11. It now awaits action by the full House.

“This affects not only this legion, but also a number of others around the state,” Bunn said, adding, “It has become a hardship for them.”

Tom Barrett, Minnesota Gambling Control Board executive director, said the situation amounted to a “glitch” in the law, and that the board supports Bunn’s bill.

Sen. Kathy Saltzman (DFL-Woodbury) sponsors the companion,  SF2476, which awaits action by the Senate State and Local Government Operations and Oversight Committee.

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