Bill lets counties help fund Veterans Day

By Tim Engstrom
American Legion Department of Minnesota Legislative Chairwoman Kristy Janigo testifies Feb. 19 on a bill that allows counties to provide up to $300 for community Veterans Day ceremonies, much like how they already are able to do for Memorial Day observances. With her is state Rep. Steve Elkins of Bloomington.

ST. PAUL — It’s early in the short legislative session, and The American Legion already is working on getting laws passed that benefit veterans.

One of the first ones up was allowing counties to allocate $300 for Veterans Day observances, just like they already do for Memorial Day ceremonies. The bill, House File 3677 authored by state Rep. Steve Elkins of Bloomington, does not mandate it.

Minnesota American Legion Legislative Chairwoman Kristy Janigo testified Feb. 19 before the House Veterans Affairs Committee: “County Veteran Service Officers like our Association President Josh Beninga of Lac qui Parle County are usually the agents who administer this funding to their local Legion, VFW or other congressionally chartered veterans service organizations. And our CVSOs often are honored guests or speakers at these observances. It strengthens the relationships between veterans in the service organizations and county government, which increases their chances of seeking out assistance through the federal VA, state Department of Veterans Affairs, or other entities that can provide life-changing support to those who served.”

Many lawmakers and Legion Family members joined together for conversation at Mancini’s in St. Paul. This is one among many photos taken in front of the American Legion backdrop. The legislators came from both DFL and Republican parties. They generally were excited to talk about veterans’ issues.

Janigo and her Legislative Committee also hosted a social gathering at Mancini’s Char House in St. Paul on Feb. 6. It was an opportunity to hobnob with Republican and DFL politicians. Many came and went, and the space was filled the entire time.

“I think it went well,” Janigo said. “It was great seeing them talk together about veterans issues. It’s one of the areas they often agree on.”

Charitable gambling continues to be a hot topic, and Janigo said gains are being made in talks with various parties involved in gambling — including the tribes — toward tax cuts. It’s a topic many sides agree upon. There are other details on the table, such as sports betting and implementation dates for e-tab changes, but nothing solid to report.

“The good thing is we are having productive dialogue this session,” she said. “I think something can get accomplished to help charities in their missions.”

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