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.
Trent Dilks, Legislative Chair