Hello from St. Paul,
Having lived in Hastings for my entire life, I can tell you a source of pride for nearly every resident is being able to host a Minnesota Veterans Home in our city. It’s a wonderful campus that allows more than 100 veterans to live independently in a safe environment.
However, there is one big problem with the Hastings facility: it’s very old, and its signs of age are becoming more visible with each passing day.
Many people may not be aware that the building was once known as the Hastings State Hospital and was used throughout the 1900’s to treat people with mental illnesses. Closed in 1978, it was transferred to the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs and became the Hastings Veterans Home.
Since then, Minnesota has authorized the creation of more veterans homes across the state. This includes brand new facilities in Preston, Montevideo, and Bemidji, which will open in 2023. This is great news, as those who have fought for our freedoms always deserve the best, and those who will live in these facilities will get just that.
But while the State of Minnesota has prioritized these new facilities, it has not prioritized bringing the Hastings Veterans Home into the 21st century.
This session, I am sponsoring two bills that would change that. The bills would authorize nearly $78 million in state funds needed to create a new veterans home in Hastings, with the rest of the funding coming from the federal government. When it comes to construction of these homes, the State must put up more than one-third of the cost, while the federal government then matches the roughly two-thirds that remains.
The only difference between my two bills is the funding source; one would utilize capital investment bonds for construction, the other would use available cash from Minnesota’s general fund as we have a nearly $18 billion budget surplus.
I personally don’t care which funding method the House prefers; I just want the job done. A new veterans’ facility in Hastings is long overdue, and I’ll be doing all I can the session to ensure this proposal moves forward.
I am also carrying legislation this session that will create a special license plate that will recognize the hockey community in Minnesota. Proceeds from the plate fees will benefit Minnesota Hockey, which is the governing body of youth and amateur hockey in Minnesota, and other statewide youth hockey programs. It’s a great bill for the State of Hockey!
Have a good weekend,