Before we get to today’s legislative news, I wish you good luck if you plan to get out for the fishing opener this weekend. The ice is out, the water is high, and the conditions could be good. Let’s hope the rain holds off.
As for news from St. Paul, the House on Friday overwhelmingly approved legislation which includes additional funding for the veterans home currently under construction in Bemidji.
The bill includes more than $10 million for construction cost increases for the three new veterans’ homes in Bemidji, Montevideo, and Preston, and more than $16 million for enhancements and furnishings to these facilities.
The state originally provided funding for construction of these homes in 2018, when I advocated for the projects in the House. Veterans have been a top priority of mine and it’s good to see overwhelming support for them in the Legislature. Veterans deserve a bill of their own, instead of this important funding getting bogged down by other issues, and that’s a key reason this package sailed through ahead of many others.
I am proud of the work I did to help deliver funding to construct the Bemidji veterans home and I look forward to the grand opening. The Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs indicates the new veterans in Bemidji is scheduled to open in the summer of 2023 and will serve 72 residents.
The funding for the three veterans homes is part of the veterans and military affairs package (S.F. 4233) which, overall, appropriates an additional $2.2 million to the Department of Military Affairs and an additional $52.351 million to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Veterans and Gold Star families who served post-9/11 will receive a total of $24.8 million post-service bonus payments. The bill also includes funding to address veteran homelessness, money for the State Veterans Cemetery in Redwood Falls, and other veterans related programs.
The bill was approved by the House on a 122-1 vote. The bill also passed the Senate, with no opposition, and has been presented to the governor for enactment.
Time will tell if we are able to find broad, bipartisan agreement on other bills during the final days of the session with the biggest issues still unresolved. The Legislature is scheduled to adjourn May 23 and, most notably, there still are significant gaps that need to be closed regarding how the state handles its historic surplus.
Look for more news from the House soon and, until then, good luck with the fishing opener and please do what you can to support our local businesses.