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Minnesota National Guard
Vet hiring bill flies through Senate

By Mark Fischenich The Free Press
mfischenich@mankatofreepresscom

MANKATO — Support for military veterans proved once again this week to be one of the few topics that can bring Republican and Democratic lawmakers together

State Sen Al DeKruif’s bill promoting hiring of veterans passed the Minnesota Senate 65-0 Thursday, and the House is expected to agree to the bill before the end of the legislative session

The four-part bill gives veterans an additional leg up in applying for government jobs, guarantees that vets can get their state jobs back when returning from a deployment, requires the state to actively recruit veterans to apply for job openings, and gives Minnesotans serving in National Guard units in other states the same employment protections as Minnesota National Guard members in holding onto their civilian jobs

DeKruif couldn’t be reached for comment following passage of the bill, but in an earlier interview the Elysian Republican said the legislation is good for Minnesota’s economy as well as helping those who serve their country

“These veterans are coming back with a skill set and a great work ethic,” DeKruif said “These are people we want to keep in Minnesota”

Jobless rates for veterans have ranged widely in varying reports, but Minnesota vets who served since the 9/11 terrorist attacks are unemployed at rates well above the statewide average One figure widely reported last year said that category of returning veterans faced a 23 percent jobless rate in Minnesota, which would have been the third highest in the nation Other reports have put it at 12 percent — still more than double the state’s overall unemployment rate

DeKruif’s bill boosts the bonus points veterans receive in taking civil service tests for state jobs Provided the veteran does well enough on the test to show they have the necessary skills for the job, the veterans preference provision would give the veteran 10 bonus points — double the current bonus

For disabled veterans, the bonus rises from 10 points to 15

A second provision makes clear that the state isn’t immune from civil penalties if it fails to hold a job for an employee who is deployed by the military Private sector employers can be sued for damages if they fail to rehire veterans upon their return from service, but the state  has immunity from those sorts of lawsuits under the 11th amendment DeKruif’s bill waives that immunity if a veteran sues because his or her state job was eliminated during a deployment

Another section of the bill deals with a hole in existing law requiring private sector employers to reinstate workers who were activated by the National Guard to deal with a natural disaster or other emergency in Minnesota The problem is that some Minnesotans are members of Guard units in other states, and their jobs aren’t protected if their unit is called up to deal with a disaster outside of Minnesota

DeKruif gave the example of flooding along the Red River Minnesotans in the Minnesota National Guard stacking sandbags on the east side of the river would know that their civilian jobs will be waiting when the disaster has passed Minnesotans serving with the North Dakota National Guard on the west side of the river currently don’t have the same protection

The bill that unanimously passed the Senate doesn’t have a companion in the House But Rep Glenn Gruenhagen — whose district includes Le Sueur County and part of Sibley County — has a constituent who served in the North Dakota National Guard, and the Glencoe Republican has a bill dealing only with the final provision in DeKruif’s bill

The plan is to get the Gruenhagen bill, which passed the House 130-0, and the DeKruif bill into a conference committee Gruenhagen has said he would gladly accept the additional provisions of DeKruif’s bill and send the compromise bill back to the House and Senate for final passage

March 30, 2012
Article source
http://mankatofreepress.com/local/x1437244446/Vet-hiring-bill-flies-through-Senate



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