New MN Law Helps Soldiers Find Jobs, Pay For School

Created: 05/22/2014 10:52 PM

(ABC 6 News) -- Memorial day is on Monday, but Minnesota leaders are getting a head start on honoring veterans and current military members.

This week, Governor Mark Dayton signed new legislation designed to make it easier for military members and their families to move to Minnesota and find work.

The first part of the legislation allows all current and former members of the military from out-of-state to receive the in-state tuition rate at all schools in the Minnesota State College and University system.

The offer also extends to spouses and dependents as a way to increase education for all members of military families.

"It may give them the added incentive to come here to get retrained in something that would appeal to them versus what they're doing,” said Ronald Reule, the veteran’s services officer in Freeborn County. “It just opens some doors that might not already be open to them."

The second part of the legislation grants temporary licenses to military members and their families whose professions require certification, such as teachers, police officers, and truck drivers.

The idea is to allow soldiers and their families to be able to work while they pursue their state certification.

"For them to be able to get their CDL license or just be able to transfer their military license for the state CDL is a huge thing for them,” said VFW #1216 Commander Scott Wiechmann of the transportation specialists working at the National Guard Armory in Albert Lea.

Still, others said that while any law that helps veterans is a good thing, the new legislation does little to help soldiers already living in Minnesota.

"Are the jobs that plentiful in Minnesota that they want to come back?” asked John Harsha, a combat medic serving in the National Guard. “Take care of your vets that you already have here instead of branching out and pulling the vets from other states into Minnesota."

Minnesota's lieutenant governor said the idea for the legislation came from first lady Michelle Obama as part of an initiative called “Joining Forces” that was started back in 2011.