2014 State Legislative Accomplishments
The Department of Military Affairs requested capital bond funding of $10.3 million to extend facility life throughout the state. Governor Mark Dayton recommended the bonding bill include $7.625 million for Military Affairs, and ultimately the legislature provided $3.244 million in asset preservation and renovation funds for the department.
State funding supported the essential hire of a second Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor to provide chemical health assessments, substance abuse awareness training, treatment resources, referrals and outreach.
The Minnesota State Bar Association took a lead role in advocating for the Uniform Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act, which would align Minnesota with the rest of the country and create a level playing field for deployed parents and military families in regard to child custody procedures. The legislature is expected to address the adoption of the UDPCVA during the 2015 session.
Through the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council, the Minnesota Legislature passed laws appropriating $1.2 million for Phase IV of the Camp Ripley Army Compatible Use Buffer program. Additionally, the council moved to recommend $1.5 million in funding for Phase V of the ACUB program. If approved, the funding would be leveraged with other state and federal funds to acquire additional conservation easements around CRTC.
The Department of Military Affairs submitted a request to construct a district heating facility at CRTC fueled by renewable biomass using wood chips from the post ($1.97 million). Military Affairs is pursuing both state and federal funding to complete this project over a multi-year time line by working with the Commissioner of Commerce and the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installation, Energy and Environment.
The Minnesota National Guard supported the Department of Educationís proposed legislation requiring schools to include a block on student enrollment forms for parents or guardians to voluntarily self-identify their children as military-connected youth. The legislation passed, and now enables us to provide support services to more military families. Additionally, the State of Minnesota adopted the Interstate Compact on Education Opportunity for Military Children, which removes barriers to educational success imposed on military-connected youth because of their parentsí service.
The Minnesota National Guard educated state legislators, staff, government officials and others from multiple states at the National Conference of State Legislatures Summit about Camp Ripleyís ACUB program. This engagement showcased the Department of Defenseís Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration Programís effort to protect military sustainability.
2015 State Legislative Objectives
Seek funding to support treatment of service members and their dependents for substance abuse and chemical dependency treatment that is not covered by TRICARE or other programs.
Explore legislation to enhance eligibility of service members and their dependents for funding for treatment of existing substance abuse and mental health treatment.
Request an adjustment to the Department of Military Affairs budget in order to more properly balance funds without increasing the total agency request.
Work with the governorís office to identify means to fund asset preservation and repair requirements, estimated at $10 million.
Propose a revision of statute that allows payment of a death gratuity from the general support appropriation for soldiers and airmen who lose their lives in service to the state. The revision will instead align the amount of a death gratuity to the comparable federal payment amount and to fund the payment from the State Active Duty emergency appropriation.
Propose a revision of statute to allow the use of enlistment incentives funding to offer bonuses to officers and enlisted members for reclassification into certain specialties that are determined to be critical to the readiness of the Minnesota National Guard.
Designate Sentinel Landscape properties to advance federal and state interagency cooperation toward common goals of protecting land use practices and prevent future encroachment.
2014 Federal Accomplishments
The Minnesota National Guard proposed funding for military construction projects, including the Stillwater Armory ($18 million) and a Qualification Training Range at Camp Ripley ($9 million). The Stillwater Armory project was approved, and construction began in November 2014.
An independent study of Minnesota National Guard training facilities led to the release of the Readiness Center Transformation Master Plan, which outlines a process of remodeling existing structures, consolidating nearby facilities, closing outdated buildings and constructing new armories in communities throughout the state.
The Minnesota Air National Guardís number one priority is the Load Crew Training and Weapons Release Shop at the 148th Fighter Wing in Duluth ($8 million). With design of the mission-critical shop already 50 percent complete, it could be constructed before 2017 if funding becomes available.
The 34th Infantry Division Headquarters Armory project was restored to the Future Years Defense Program for execution in 2017 ($39 million). The armory will be constructed at the Arden Hills Army Training Site.
Military Affairs continued to engage with the Minnesota Congressional Delegation to secure federal support and funding for the Duluth Airport Authorityís long-range plan to extend the Duluth International Airport Crosswind Runway. The runway would be mutually beneficial, assuring a viable long-term mission for the 148th Fighter Wing.
The 133rd Airlift Wing completed 70 percent of a sustainment, restoration and modernization project to repair its aging water distribution system ($4.1 million). The project to renovate fire, electrical and mechanical systems for the hangar is anticipated to be funded in 2015 ($6 million).
The 148th Fighter Wing completed the following construction projects: the fiscal year 2012 Munitions Storage Igloos project ($1.7 million); renovations to the operations building to accommodate new requirements due to aircraft conversion ($2.3 million); design, award and construction of the fiscal year 2014 Master Construction Cooperative Agreement project with the City of Duluth to reconstruct an alternate entry roadway ($2.7 million); and design of a fiscal year 2015 project to renovate and add to the Jet Engine Intermediate Maintenance facility ($2.5 million).
The 148th began construction to renovate and add to an existing facility to provide a corrosion control clean room ($0.6 million) and awarded project design to renovate a consolidated Logistics Readiness and Supply facility ($4.7 million).
The Minnesota National Guard collaborated with other agencies to demonstrate the organizationís capability to assume future cyber related missions. A nomination packet was submitted to pursue one of 10 Cyber Protection Teams to be fielded throughout the National Guard in 2017.
The Minnesota National Guard continues to support initiatives toward modernizing the C-130H airframes for the 133rd Airlift Wing. Upgrades to the aging fleet are needed, as production of the new model of aircraft, the C-130J Super Hercules, is projected to take nearly 20 years. In 2014 congressional legislation directed modernization of the current C-130H aircraft.
The legislative and command emphasis on the Medical Evaluation Board process significantly improved the efficiency of packet submission and resolution of cases. There was an increase of medical board cases attaining final adjudication from 82 in 2013 to 117 in 2014.
The 148th Fighter Wing has successfully worked with the National Guard Bureau to achieve additional manpower and has received some full-time workforce authorizations for fiscal year 2015 and beyond.
The bipartisan National Guard and Reserve Access to Counsel Act was introduced to ensure survivors of sexual assault receive support services if there is any connection between the crime and their service. The bill requires the branch service secretary to provide Special Victims Counsel to the member regardless of when the assault occurred.
2015 Federal Objectives
The Minnesota National Guard supports the request to establish a National Guard and Reserve Equipment Appropriations account with a separate line in the Presidentís budget for National Guard Military Construction. Military Construction on Future Years Defense Program for the Minnesota Army National Guard is projected to cost $48.8 million through 2017. For the Minnesota Air National Guard, the cost is projected at $28.8 million through 2019.
Request $1.5 million to fund Phase V of the Camp Ripley Army Compatible Use Buffer program and $4.5 million to fund the Minnesota Buffer for Wildlife and Water.
The Minnesota National Guard intends to grow or maintain force structure. Current force structure organizes and equips the organization to respond to natural disasters, provide assistance to local law enforcement or respond to an attack on the homeland. The Guardís major commands, including the two air wings, are positioned to meet the governorís state requirements through ten essential capabilities, including cyber response, for homeland readiness.
The Minnesota National Guard has submitted a nomination packet to pursue one of 10 Cyber Protection Teams to be fielded to the National Guard starting in 2017. The nomination packet emphasizes the Minnesota National Guardís strengths, past mission performance, unit readiness and the Adjutant Generalís Cyber Response Strategy.
Continued emphasis will be placed on the Medical Evaluation Board process to further reduce the case backlog and sustain the efficiencies made in individual packet submission and adjudication throughout 2014.
The 148th Fighter Wing was designated as an 18 Primary Aircraft Authorization Active Associate wing in 2012, with a portion of manning to be supplied by the active component. Delays in assigning active airmen have left the wing short of its manpower requirements for the Suppression of Enemy Air Defense mission. The Minnesota National Guard will continue to work with the National Guard Bureau to make up the shortfall of approximately 50 airmen.
Support the Duluth Airport Authorityís long-range plan to extend the Duluth International Airport Crosswind Runway, which would be mutually beneficial and enhance operations for the 148th Fighter Wing.
Encourage efforts to modernize the avionics in the current C-130H Hercules fleet to meet the 2020 world-wide Air Traffic Control deadline. This, along with other structural upgrades, will continue to enhance the C-130H fleet for the 133rd Airlift Wing.
The Minnesota National Guard supports efforts to pursue the C-130J Super Hercules model aircraft as a future, versatile airframe for the 133rd Airlift Wing.
Continue to pursue next-generation equipment for upgrades to the C-130H3 simulator at the 133rd Airlift Wing.
Champion efforts to fortify and simplify service memberís access to mental and behavioral health and substance abuse and chemical dependency services by enforcing TRICARE compliance with the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act.
The Minnesota National Guard supports efforts to find an alternative to sequestration and automatic spending cuts which would result in a loss of readiness for both domestic emergencies such as floods and overseas combat missions.
Support the recommendations in the Readiness Center Transformation Master Plan, including long-range funding to support replacement modification and consolidation of our Minnesota National Guard facilities.
House of Representatives- http://www.house.gov/representatives/find
Minnesota Senators- http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm?State=MN
Minnesota State Legislature- http://www.leg.state.mn.us