Legislative Update April 2021

Greetings Members,

I am reaching out to provide you with an update on where we are at the state level for this year, so far. 

Legislative Update

I had a busy early session at the state level with a lot of testifying, however it doesn’t appear this will be a very successful year for many of the VSO supported initiatives. When I was asked prior to this year my thoughts on the session, I gave an honest assessment that in a budget year, during a pandemic, with a divided Government (House and Gov different party than Senate) I didn’t expect to get much traction. 

The House and Senate have both passed from their Veterans Committees what their versions of the military and Veteran’s portion of a future omnibus bill. Here is a quick side-by-side for you all:

Veterans Services Budget

  • Senate version $79,851,000 for Veterans Affairs
  • House version $84,168,000 for Veterans Affairs

The biggest differences here are: 

  • The Senate has $750,000 for Veterans Homelessness Initiative and the House has $3,165,000 for the same.
  • The Senate has $112,000 for the 9/11 Task Force and the House has $500,000 for the same.

Veterans’ Healthcare Budget

  • The Senate version has $60,633,00 and the House version $62,120,000. 
  • These are the funds used to operate the Veterans Homes and their programs.

Policy Initiatives

  • The House version includes the language from the Veterans Restorative Justice Act (VRJA), the Senate version does not.
  • The VRJA is supported by all member organizations of the CTF, and would give Veterans a chance to get treatment for their service-connected mental health issues when they start to get into legal trouble.
  • Both versions would make the first Saturday of every October Veterans Suicide and Awareness Day.
  • The Senate version includes language to make a flag flown over the Capitol available to family members of service members killed in the line of duty, the House version does not.
  • Both versions make some technical changes to the MN GI Bill, authorizing MDVA to provide Adult Day Healthcare and Dental services.

As you can see, there will definitely be some work to be done in an eventual Conference Committee. Unfortunately, it does not look like either chamber is currently planning on passing a Military and Veterans Omnibus, and instead we will be wrapped up in whatever partisan fight these two chambers decide to have over an even larger monstrosity of an omnibus bill. The DAV MN, along with our partners continues to push for a standalone omnibus for Veterans.

Veterans Week of Advocacy 

Next week we will have the first “Veterans Week of Advocacy” here in Minnesota. Essentially it is an expansion on the previous Veterans Day on the Hill. Mostly it will consist of messaging to the public about what we want to see done at the state and federal level. I hope to have it grow into a much bigger event, but this year we are just proving some concepts and laying the groundwork. In the future I hope to have a Veterans Week of Advocacy that includes a huge rally at the Capitol as a part of it.

If you are not already, I strongly encourage everyone to sign up for the DAV’s Commanders Action Network which can be found here: https://www.dav.org/learn-more/legislation/join-action-network-take-action/  

This is also the go-to place for federal updates. Once you are signed up for DAV CAN, you will occasionally get emails asking you to send a message to your Representative or Senator, it takes 30 seconds after your signed up and it lets our members of Congress know we want our priorities acted on.

I am also asking members across Minnesota to contact their State Senators and State Representatives to voice a couple of priorities for the end of session. Here is an example of how that message can go,

“Hi I am (Your Name) a constituent from (where you live) and I am asking (Representative or Senator So-and-so) to ensure they do everything within their power to ensure this is the year the Veterans Restorative Justice Act SF116 and included in HF 752 passes, and that Veterans issues be separated from all the partisan fighting and moved the floor as a standalone omnibus.” 

That simple of a message, if they ask any questions you aren’t prepared to answer respectfully ask that they reach out to DAV MN’s Legislative Director Trent Dilks at 651-291-1212 for further details. It is nice if you can speak to the member, but their Legislative Assistant can most definitely pass along the message or left on a voicemail is fine.

If you aren’t sure how to contact your state level lawmakers you can find their information by entering your address here: https://www.gis.leg.mn/iMaps/districts/ 

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Trent C Dilks
Legislative Director
Disabled American Veterans, Dept. of MN 

Virtual Mid-Winter Conference: National Commander’s Testimony

We want to extend our thanks to all those who took part in our 2021 Virtual Mid-Winter Conference this past weekend. While we would have liked to meet in person, we are glad that so many of you logged on and engaged in our legislative discussions, performed important interim committee business and helped move the ball forward in terms of DAV’s advocacy efforts.

We do have one more event lined up which we hope you will all make time to attend virtually— the centerpiece of our annual mid-winter event, the national commander’s presentation of DAV’s legislative priorities before Congress.
National Commander Stephen “Butch” Whitehead’s testimony before a joint session of the Senate and House Veterans’ Affairs committees has been scheduled for March 3 at 10 a.m. EST. A link will be made available at www.dav.org/2021midwinter and across our social media channels.

We also encourage you to visit the updated 2021 Virtual Mid-Winter Conference page for additional resources, including our legislative critical policy goals for the 117th Congress along with staff overviews, advocacy award presentations, a legislative roundtable discussion and more.

Thank you all for helping to make this year’s Virtual Mid-Winter Conference a success. Please feel free to reach out to DAV’s legislative staff with any questions you may have, and as always, thank you for your continued advocacy efforts and for your support for DAV’s legislative goals.

Marc Burgess
National Adjutant

Legislative Update March 2021

Greetings All,

The state legislative session is underway, and that means DAV MN has been active in advocating for Minnesota’s Veterans during the process. This session is something far different from anything I have experienced in the past 6 years doing legislative work for the DAV. None of the hearings are being held in person, everything is Zoom. There is one major upside to this, it puts all of us on a level playing field. If you are from Greater Minnesota, you have just as much access to testify, or attend a hearing as the usually heavily represented Metro area.

The session started with DAV MN having an opportunity to present who we are as an organization to the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees. This is always a highlight for me, as I enjoy the opportunity to share what we as an organization do to make an impact in the lives of Minnesota’s Veterans, their families, and survivors. I strongly encourage every chapter to do something similar, and have one member (hopefully your BPTL) contact the Representatives and Senators who represent your area and let them know who DAV is locally.

The initial round of introductions has been followed by testifying on some legislation, the primary bills I am working on this year are HF 641 & SF 683. These are companion bills that would create a tax credit for hiring homeless or disabled Veterans in Minnesota at $1,500 and $3,000, respectively. This has been something we have been working on for years, but never seems to make it across the finish line. It is past time that Minnesota joins states like Wisconsin, with a $4,000, Iowa with a $4,8000, and not to mention New York who has a up to $15,000 credit to encourage hiring Veterans.

The DAV also remains active with the Commanders Task Force, who has again made their primary focus the Veterans Restorative Justice Act. This bill has been amazingly frustrating as St. Paul politics have seen it pass in one chamber or the other, and fail for reasons that seem unrelated to actual content of the bill.

Veterans Day on the Hill UPDATE

know many of you look forward to our annual Veterans Day on the Hill event, where hundreds of Veterans from across Minnesota make some noise in the Capitol Rotunda. It is also one of my favorite events. Unfortunately, due to everything that is going on with the current pandemic it has been decided that we can’t safely make the event happen this year.

That doesn’t mean we’re not planning something though. I have presented, and had accepted a DAV driven idea to instead try a “Veterans Week of Advocacy”.  Many more details will come out in the coming weeks, but please start thinking about ways we can drive advocacy through the roof and at least for one week push Veterans priorities to the top of the list. We are currently looking at April 11-16 to ask the Veterans community, and our supporters, to engage in various ways to advocate for Minnesota’s Veterans.

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at [email protected] or 651-291-1212.

——–Trent C Dilks, Executive Director-Foundation

DAV Virtual Fall Conference 2020

Virtual Fall Conference-

The DAV MN is proud to announce the rollout of our Virtual Fall Conference 2020 content. The current pandemic forced us to cancel Convention and Conference, but we wanted to ensure you got the updates and information you need. The Executive Committee and staff have put together an excellent set of content on topics that are important to DAV MN members and leaders in professionally shot and edited video.

Starting 10/9/2020 all content, updates, and links will be here:

Topics Include:

  • Commander’s Report
  • Membership
  • Clothing Program
  • New Tool to Easily Complete Your Chapter AFR
  • Transportation
  • Outdoors
  • And MORE..

The DAV MN will also hold Live Virtual Sessions for you to hear more on certain topics and ask questions if you have them. If you would like to submit your question to be answered during the event in advance please send them to [email protected] 

Click on Event Picture for Zoom Meeting Info

Chapter Officer Guides: Copies of the Chapter Officer Guides (Updated) have been mailed to the person listed on your Chapter Officer Report to receive mail. 5 copies per chapter. Most of the questions chapters have regarding duties, timelines, roles, etc.. can be answered by the updated version of the Chapter Officer Guide.

UPDATED Chapter Officer Guide mailed to Chapters 10/5/20