I was disappointed to read John Persell's description of what went on in the recent Legislative Session regarding the Bemidji Veterans' Home in Brad Swenson's column on June 21.
The quotes in the article are completely inaccurate and can be verified by a listen to the testimony on House File 1752, Session Law Chapter 293. The amendment and the video can be found on the Minnesota House of Representatives website.
I originally introduced this bill on May 21, 2011, to allocate money to Twin Cities Public Television. While there was never a conference committee on this bill, it was the vehicle for the final bonding bill of 2012. The bill was put together by the leaders of all four caucuses and the governor. There also was an agreement that the bill would not be amended in a way that changed or moved funding. At no time was a Bemidji veterans' home included in that bill.
On May 7, 2012, the bill was brought up on the house floor. When an agreement is put together in a bi-partisan fashion, as this bill was, members are on their honor to not amend it. Each member does have the right to not honor that agreement. Rep. Persell did not offer an amendment strictly for $250,000 for Bemidji, he offered an amendment that took $10.25 million dollars from the Camp Ripley project and asked that $250,000 be sent to the Bemidji project and $10 million be spent on the Minneapolis Veterans' Home.
His DFL caucus leader, Rep. Theisen, explained that this bill was an agreed upon solution and requested his members to vote no. Rep. Kreisel, our wounded and decorated veteran member, explained quite well that it was not right to change the agreement nor should we take money from training our National Guard members. Persell's motion failed overwhelmingly.
A new veterans' home has vast support in the Minnesota House, but location and operating costs are the issue. I will not pretend to support legislation that is for political gain; but rather, I support what's best for our veterans. I want to see the best location possible to serve their needs. I will always honor an agreement brought forward by all leadership that serves the best interests of the people of Minnesota. This bipartisan effort is what the people of Minnesota want to see from their elected officials.
Rep. Larry Howes