|Denny Christiansen, a veteran of the U.S. Army|
Minnesota is home to nearly 400,000 veterans and Governor Mark Dayton is committed to honoring the service and sacrifice of each one. This year, the Governor and the DFL legislature focused on increasing access to:
Access to Jobs and Education
Governor Dayton’s budget increases access to good job opportunities and affordable education to help our veterans successfully transition into civilian life. To help Minnesota veterans find employment, the new budget includes new tax credits to encourage businesses to hire disabled or unemployed veterans. And to better support small businesses owned by veterans, legislation passed that allows local governments to offer bid preferences to veteran-owned businesses.
The new state budget also helps veterans interested in getting additional education. Improvements to the Minnesota GI Bill http://www.ohe.state.mn.us/mPg.cfm?pageID=1803 will help all veterans and the families of those killed in the line of duty attend colleges and universities.
Safe, secure housing
A 2009 study confirmed that Minnesota has hundreds of homeless veterans. The Governor’s budget increases funding for the Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans http://www.mac-v.org/ (MCAV) to ensure that Minnesota veterans have access to safe and secure housing. The MCAV assists homeless veterans and those in danger of becoming homeless.
Veterans’ homes are critical to addressing homelessness as well. The budget allocates $20.4 million to create 93 permanent rental housing units for veterans who have experienced homelessness. Additionally, it funds improvements for the Minneapolis, Fergus Falls, Silver Bay, and Luverne veterans’ homes.
On May 14, 2013, Governor Dayton signed into law House File 1054/Senate File 925, granting all Minnesotans the freedom to marry. This week, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights released a toolkit on how Minnesota’s new law legalizing same-sex marriage impacts people, communities, businesses and religious entities.
Beginning August 1, two individuals of the same gender can become lawfully wed in Minnesota. “This is a milestone for equal rights for all Minnesotans,” said Human Rights Commissioner Kevin Lindsey. “Minnesota’s same-sex marriage law seeks to strike a delicate balance in recognizing individual liberty while respecting the Nation’s long standing tradition of separating church and state.”
Governor Dayton issued a proclamation, officially declaring that June 2013 is Pride Month in the State of Minnesota. Residents and visitors are encouraged to participate in the numerous Pride Month activities across Minnesota, and support the ongoing efforts leading Minnesota toward full LGBT equality.