I hope you will join me in extending appreciation to the men and women who are serving or have served our nation in the military as we celebrate Veterans Day this Saturday.
As a member of the House Veterans Affairs Division, I am proud of the Legislature’s accomplishments this year to support veterans. Here is a quick overview of new laws we led to enactment in the 2017 session:
- $1.449 million operational funding increase for Veterans Affairs Department programs and services to veterans.
- Minnesota GI Bill expanded to include apprenticeship and on-the-job training benefits; and increases educational as well as apprenticeship and on-the-job training benefit amounts.
- Increases Support Our Troops individual grant eligibility amounts from $2,000 to $4,000.
- $500,000 to the Humanities Center for Veterans Defense Project grants.
- Expansion of impersonation of military officer (“stolen valor”) to include any military member for the purpose of financial gain.
- County boards authorized to appropriate money for veterans memorial anywhere in county.
- $700,000 for Veterans Journey Home grants.
Aside from those new laws, a change the Legislature made in 2015-16 to exempt military retirement pay from being taxed went into effect for the 2017 tax filing year.
Thanks again, veterans, for all your hard work to keep us safe and to defend our liberty. Your courageous sacrifices are heroic and I will continue championing legislative efforts to provide the support you deserve.
People from our area are encouraged to attend an upcoming meeting in Baxter, hosted by the Minnesota Department of Transportation, to discuss state ditch-mowing policies.
Last year, MnDOT indicated it planned to change its statewide permitting standards for mowing and baling in ditches along Minnesota’s state roadways. Myriad concerns arose over the proposed changes and the Republican-led legislature successfully authored a bill placing a moratorium on new mowing rules along state highways – excluding county and township roads – until May of 2018.
This moratorium helped to ensure the public and key stakeholders had ample opportunity to provide input regarding the changes to permitting standards prior to their enforcement. Republicans pushed for an outright ban on new ditch mowing regulations, legislation that was strongly opposed by the Dayton administration.
The meeting will take place 6 to 8 p.m. Monday, Nov. 20 at the MnDOT Facility (7694 Industrial Park Rd.). Constituents can also submit written comments by email by filling out a MnDOT comment form: http://www.dot.state.mn.us/mowing/comments.html.
This meeting is your best chance to provide direct input to MnDOT on this issue, so I hope you can attend!
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Have a great weekend!