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The Rights Stuff Forum: Minnesota's Veterans

Proposals to Assist Minnesota Veterans

Proposals

A bipartisan coalition working on veterans initiatives, the Military Action Group (MAG) includes between 30 to 40 representatives from state agencies, veterans service organizations, legislators, attorneys, and others. MAG has developed a series of proposals for this legislative session, which include:

Veterans Courts

The courts would piggyback on existing specialty courts for DWI and drug offenses to connect veterans with treatment options at the Veterans Administration (VA).

Presumptive Certificate of Rehabilitation

A veteran who had a criminal record before entering the military would receive a certificate that could be shown to a prospective employer or landlord as evidence of rehabilitation.

Veterans Preference in Employment

Currently, if a veteran believes that a government entity has violated Minnesota's veterans preference laws, the veteran must hire an attorney and file a suit. One proposal would strengthen the law by creating an investigative role under the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs, or providing for attorney's fees.Additional protections against termination would be added at the state level.

Veterans Sentencing Mitigation Statute

A proposal to strengthen the statute (Minn. Stat ยง 609.115, subd.10) passed in 2008 that encourages treatment over jail time for veterans who come into the court system because of service-related psychological issues. Currently the burden is on the defense to arrange for a psychological evaluation if a veteran is in custody.The proposal would require that defendants be screened at the time of arraignment for veteran status.

Veterans in Business

An existing state program grants up to $20,000 to service members who own small businesses to help them keep their business afloat while they are deployed. One proposal would expand eligibility for the grants to also assist a servicemember or veteran in starting a business when he or she returns. Other proposals would expand the preference now given to veteran-owned businesses bidding on state contracts to include veterans who served before 9/11, who are currently excluded from this preference.

Outreach to Homeless Veterans

A proposal to provide a grant to the Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans (MACV) for continued outreach to Minnesota's homeless veterans and those in danger of homelessness.

Military Pension Retirement Pay

A proposal to exempt all or part of a veteran's military retirement pension from state income taxes.