Area House members sponsor bill to construct veterans homes
February 17, 2017
ST. PAUL – State Reps. Matt Grossell, R-Clearbrook, and Matt Bliss, R-Pennington, are co-authors of legislation to construct veterans homes in two underserved regions of Minnesota, including Bemidji.
The proposal is called the Minnesota Veterans and Quality of Life Act (H.F. 1109). It would allocate a total of $16 million in bonding proceeds to construct two veterans facilities, with $10 million for one in Bemidji and $6 million for another in Montevideo.
“This issue is one of my very top priorities this session,” Bliss said. “Bemidji is in a black hole in terms of access to veterans homes. For us, the nearest one is more than two hours away and that is a real obstacle for people in serious need. Our veterans have sacrificed so much and we need to do more to make sure they get the care they deserve.”
Reports indicate the proposal would help provide service to roughly 30,000 veterans in northern Minnesota who are isolated from existing state veterans homes.
“It is good to see people from Bemidji and Montevideo teaming up on this proposal to do what is right for veterans,” said Grossell, himself a U.S. Army veteran. “The local folks who have worked hard on the ground level deserve much credit and I am optimistic this bill will receive strong support in St. Paul so we can get this project across the finish line.”
Federal and local contributions also are involved. The Bemidji facility would be constructed on land donated by the Sanford Health campus.
Rep. Tim Miller, R-Prinsburg, represents the Montevideo area and is the bill’s chief author.