Call to Action!

Greetings all:

The session is coming to a close and the partisan malarkey, from both sides, is stinking up the Capitol. This is the time we need to step up as a Veterans community to ensure our lawmakers remember Veteran’s issues, are nonpartisan issues.

There are currently three areas I am greatly concerned with:

1) Many of you may have heard a State Government Finance Bill was sent from the Minnesota Legislature to Governor Dayton. I think it is important to note there was NO funding for the Duluth Veterans Cemetery operations.
In a surplus year to not fund the operations/upkeep of the final resting place for our Veterans, is unacceptable. It is time to send a message
2) The versions of both the House and Senate Bonding Bills left out funding to replace the closed bridge to the Minneapolis Veterans Home.
This is a safety issue. Currently, a large population of vulnerable Veterans can only be accessed by one narrow route if the need for emergency services were to arise.
3) The fund for betterment and improvement at all of the state Veterans homes is essentially empty and there is currently no plan to replenish that fund.

This funding is what is used to make the necessary repairs to ensure the safety and quality of living of our Veterans in the State Veterans Homes.

Please, please join me in letting our elected representatives know this lack of funding for our Veterans is unacceptable. The bill SF 605 is already at the Governor’s desk, meaning this has already passed the House and Senate in Minnesota. That means many of your elected reps have already voted to not fund these issues (1&3).

You can find your State Rep and Senator’s contact information here.

Please keep me posted on your efforts: [email protected]

Regards,
Trent C Dilks
Legislative Director DAV of MN

President Trump Signs Extension of Veterans Choice Act

On Wednesday, April 19, 2017 President Trump signed an extension of the Veterans Choice Act. There is an estimated $950,000,000 left of the original allotment. The action taken on Wednesday made it possible for the Choice Program to continue operating.

There has been a lot misinformation spread about this action, it is important to note this bill did not include any changes to the current Choice Program.  It was an act to extend the authorization of the program implemented in 2014. The only other change was to allow the VA to serve as a primary, instead of secondary payer when working with a Veteran who also has private health insurance.

The real work of improving the Choice Program can now begin in earnest, as Congress will not have to worry about the program losing its authorization.  The DAV of MN was recently a part of the discussion on how to improve Veterans Choice. DAV of MN Legislative Director Trent Dilks and NSO Supervisor Jon Retzer were invited to be a part of a roundtable discussion with Senior Presidential Advisor on Veterans Affairs Jake Leinenkugel and the VA Undersecretary of Community Care in Minneapolis.

The discussion was centered on what has and has not worked with the current program. Included in the discussion were six representatives from Minnesota Veterans Service Organizations and two MN CVSO’s. When asked to summarize the nature of the discussion Trent Dilks said,

“We had a great opportunity to have a discussion with someone who has the President’s ear on Veterans issues and I think we had a high quality discussion. The topic was how to improve Veterans Choice and our message was consistent and clear, we believe community care should be coordinated with the VA. The providers who offer these services need to be paid in a timely manner. Lastly, we let them know they needed to return control over the community care program to the local VA Medical Centers.”

Mr. Dilks went on to explain that by returning control to the local VA they could utilize or build relationships with providers. “It will also allow for local accountability in the process” Mr. Dilks explained, “Right now when there is a mistake, delay or other issues it seems like even the people in charge aren’t sure who should fix the issue. Local control, instead of random contractors spread across the country, would go a long way towards resolving problems in a timely manner.”

The full text of the Bill President Trump signed into law on Wednesday can be found here-

https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/senate-bill/544/text?q=%7B%22search%22%3A%22committee%3D%3Assva00%22%7D&r=3

Please contact Trent Dilks at [email protected] with any questions or concerns.

Legislative Update 4/7/17

On March 29th DAV of MN Legislative Director Trent Dilks was invited to participate in a meeting with White House Special Advisor on Veterans Jake Leinenkugel and senior VA officials regarding the future of community care and the VHA overall. “This was an excellent opportunity for us in the Veteran services world to communicate with someone who directly has the ear of the President.” Said Trent.

ON THE BEAT – APRIL 2017

DAV Mid-Winter Conference

Last week, 19 DAV of MN Members and Department Staff traveled to our Nation’s Capital to represent over 3.1 million members and the veterans which they serve. The DAV of MN was hard at work, conducting 16 meetings with Representatives, Senators, and Staff Members over the course of two days. The DAV of MN Benefit Protection Team used this time to build and strengthen relationships with our lawmakers and their staff. The annual Delegate Breakfast was held at the U.S. House Cannon Building where members were able to meet with our lawmakers and discuss veterans issues and legislative priorities. To learn more about DAV legislative priorities, visit  https://www.dav.org/wp-content/uploads/TalkingPoints_2017MidWinter.pdf

Legislative Update 1/27/17

Greetings,

I have attached an update to DAV Legislative Update 1.27.2017
 

I am asking for your help to ensure this bill is not allowed to die a quiet death. This issue is too important to allow it to be pushed aside. The next opportunity to make our presence felt will be February 2nd at 8:30 a.m. at the Senate Bldg. Rm. 1100.

 

If you are interested in supporting H.F. 119 & SF 84, or would like additional information, please contact me at: [email protected] or 651-788-3186. 

 

Regards,

Trent C Dilks

Legislative Director

DAV of MN


* Please feel free to forward this email to anyone you think might benefit from the information herein. I only ask you leave my contact information attached. I never trust an email someone is unwilling to put their name on.

Legislative Update 2017

Greetings;

Just after the New Year there will be a big event for Veterans in the state of Minnesota, the state legislature will start the 2017 session on January 3rd. Over the past three years I have been working diligently to ensure the DAV of MN is at the forefront of the legislative process in our state. That work will continue throughout this upcoming session.

As the DAV of MN’s Legislative Chair I have been working closely with legislators to introduce legislation this session to protect our state’s disabled Veterans and their widow/widowers. Currently, I am in the last stages of finalizing a bill for introduction this coming session that would extend the property tax value exclusion to additional widows and make it a lifetime benefit. Once the legislation is finalized I will be sending out an informational sheet on it.

This is a big step for the DAV of MN as we strive to be a leader in the legislative process. As a part of this process I will be looking for partners in the Veterans community to help ensure this important legislation is enacted. It is very rare to see lawmakers vote “against” Veteran’s issues, however, in previous years I have noted Veterans legislation may not be voted against, it is simply allowed to die a very quiet death.

To ensure this does not happen we must build a better “grass roots” network. If there is a piece of legislation that protects or provides for Minnesota’s disabled Veterans, and it is stalling, I can only do so much as your Legislative Chair. However, if we have Veterans advocates identified throughout the state I could alert them if the committee their legislator is on has legislation stalling out.

At the state level it is extremely effective to have constituents call and remind their legislators they are paying attention. The calls don’t need to be just from Veterans, we have a lot of allies in our communities who are searching for a way to assist.

The Minnesota legislature has been doing much of its work in the closing minutes of the session. The effect of this is that much of what is included/excluded is decided in private negotiations. That means there is very little time for us to react. It could take only a matter of hours for something detrimental to Veterans to be enacted in this type of atmosphere. It is imperative we have the network of Veterans organized to quickly react in those situations.

Throughout the coming session I will be at the Veterans Committee hearings every Monday. If you would like to come as part of group to see how it works just let me know. There are addition committees if Monday does not work for you.

If you are interested in being proactive and helping me build a strong grass roots network in our state please contact me: [email protected] or 651-788-3186.

Regards,
Trent Dilks, Legislative Chair

DAV MN & DAV Ch. 13 Grand Rapids Partner for Town Hall

On December 8, 2016 the DAV of MN and Chapter 13 partnered up for a town hall event in Cohasset.

This was an excellent event where local Veterans got the opportunity to discuss state issues with their legislators. In attendance were the newly elected State Senator and both Representatives for District 5. This was a great opportunity for these new legislators to transition from campaigning to governing.

The local chapter did a great job securing an excellent venue at the community center and supplied a free meal to all Veterans and family members in attendance. Even with some rough weather we had 50 Veterans in attendance.

There was an active conversation about the DAV of MN’s legislative priorities for the upcoming session. After those were presented each legislator had an opportunity to introduce themselves and discuss their legislative priorities for Veterans. We then transitioned into the Q&A session where the local Veterans were able to ask questions and express their concerns.

This was the 4th such town hall and the events continue to be a major success for the chapters who host these. The hosting chapter works closely with Legislative Chairman, Trent Dilks to coordinate the event. Trent takes care of contacting legislators, invites, promotional fliers and conducting the town hall. The hosting chapter is responsible for venue, meal/refreshments and getting the word out to the local Veteran’s community.

If any chapter is interested in more information about hosting an event like this please contact Trent: 651-788-3186 or [email protected]

Legislative Update 6/17/16

Greetings,

 I want to clear up some confusion about the Military Retirees Pension Tax Exemption.

1) It DID pass.
2) It was signed into law by Gov. Dayton as part of the Supplemental Budget Bill.
2a) To be exact it was signed by Gov. Dayton June 1, 2016 at 11:04 a.m.
3) It was NOT part of the Omnibus Tax Bill that was “pocket vetoed” by Gov. Dayton
4) The pertinent wording from HF 2749, 3rd Engrossment(final) and Session Law, Chapter 189 is:

to the extent included in federal taxable income, compensation received from a pension or other retirement pay from the federal government for service in the military, as computed under United States Code, title 10, sections 1401 to 1414, 1447 to 1455, and 12733

 It can also be found at the top in the description of the Bill, “A bill to enact… providing an income tax subtraction for military retirement pay;”

5) Beyond reading the text of HF 2749, 3rd Engrossment(final), I have confirmed (for the second time) this information with Legislative Staff.
6) If you would like to see where I got this information from you can look at HF 2749, 3rd Engrossment, Line 259.30 thru Line 259.34. The text can be found at: 

https://www.revisor.mn.gov/bills/text.php?number=HF2749&session_year=2016&session_number=0&version=latest

I hope this clear this up for you. I have been contacted by numerous Veterans in regards to this subject since I sent out our initial release and I understand the confusion.

If you use logic it would seem a tax exemption would be in the tax bill…. This is politics; we can’t always use logic and reason.

Please forward this to all of your Veteran contacts for maximum dissemination. If you do copy and forward please leave my contact information, I am always skeptical of anything forwarded without someone putting their name behind it. Minnesota Veterans scored a HUGE victory this session and they should know about it!

Keep your eyes and ears open for updates on a possible upcoming special session….

As always please contact me with any question or concerns. I can be reached at [email protected] or by calling 651-788-3186.

YITB,

Trent Christian Dilks
DAV of Minnesota
Legislative Chair
Cell:651-788-3186
Ph: 320-255-6480 ext 6676
www.davmn.org

End of Minnesota Legislative Session

Greetings;

Now that the legislative session has come to an end I wanted to take a moment to share with our members some great news. After nearly two decades Minnesota has finally passed a tax exemption for military retirement benefits. The tax exemption was included with the supplemental budget bill Gov. Dayton signed into law last week.

I reached out to Rep. Dettmer’s office for comment. Here is what he sent:

“This measure was the result of many people working over the last two decades, and persistence in negotiations with the Senate. There are approximately 18,000 retired veterans who live in our state, and this bill will encourage them to stay in our communities and workforce once they retire from service. Minnesota is now the 46th state to exempt military retirement benefits. In my mind, this provision was not just a good thing to do, it was the right thing to do, and I am so happy that this measure finally passed this year.” -Rep. Bob Dettmer

I would like to thank Rep. Dettmer for his tireless work on behalf of Minnesota’s Veterans. If he is your representative I would encourage you to reach out and show your appreciation.

The new subtraction for military retirement pay is effective for taxable years beginning after December 31, 2015.

I was heartened to see the tax exemption was truly a bipartisan effort, this is especially notable because overall it does not appear this was a particularly effective session.

I would like to give a very special thank you to some of our members who reached out to their lawmakers as the session was coming to its chaotic close. I had received word that some instrumental lawmakers may have been flagging in their support of this important legislation. I made several calls on behalf of the DAV of MN, however, I have no doubt it was the calls from our members in the specific districts that helped to push this important legislation through.

I will continue to comb through the legislation from this past session, as well as keep an eye on any potential special session. We still have some very important legislative initiatives that gained zero traction this past session so our mission is far from accomplished.

In the coming weeks I will be reaching out with several initiatives to ensure we are ahead of the curve for the next session.

As always if you have any questions, suggestion or concerns you can reach me at: [email protected] or 651-788-3186.

YITB,
Trent Christian Dilks
DAV of Minnesota
Legislative Chair
Hospital Service Coordinator/Dept Service Officer
Cell:651-788-3186
Ph: 320-255-6480 ext 6676