Monday is Minnesota Veterans Day at the Capitol in St. Paul as service members look to urge legislators to pass a number of initiatives.
One of the top priorities on the agenda is to modify the existing homestead market value tax exclusion for service-connected disable Veterans by eliminating the expiration of exemption for surviving spouses.
Minnesota VFW Legislative Chair Tom McLaughlin of Mankato says a number of people from the Vietnam era are being affected.
“Currently after the Veteran dies, the widow has eight years, if she stays in the house, where she would keep that benefit. We would like to see it expanded to a lifetime for her. So she would be able to stay in the home until she chooses to leave it.”
Another item on the agenda includes pushing for increased opportunities for Veterans facing criminal charges to access Veterans Courts, relating to treatment and diversion programming.
“We are pushing for a statewide expansion of the Veterans Court System. Which is really an alternative for Veterans who happen to run amiss with the law, to have an option if they participate in this court and fulfill the responsibilities given to them by the judge. Their sentence may not be executed.”
McLaughlin adds they will also look to establish a nonrefundable tax credit for employers who hire qualified Veterans.
“Employers can actually work through the State Department of Veterans Affairs here in Minnesota and get in to the program where they will assist them in hiring a veteran and getting them the training that they need. Or helping them to transfer their skills they learned in the military to civilian life.”
The proposed credit would equal 10-percent of the wages paid to the Veteran, with a maximum credit of 3-thousand dollars.
Officials also hope to secure nearly 47-million dollars in funding for a new visitors center at the Fort Snelling historic site. Another 13.1-million dollars is being requested to fund improvement projects at Minnesota State Veterans Home campuses and State Veterans cemeteries.
All five branches of the military will be represented at the event, which is being lead by the United Veterans Legislative Council of Minnesota.