Weather Forecast


Minnesota Legislature: Vet spouses tax breaks suggested

Cass County Assessor Steve Kuha tells a Minnesota House committee Wednesday that a bill to give survivors of disabled veterans tax breaks needs work before it becomes law. Watching is the bill's sponsor, Rep. Al Juhnke, DFL-Willmar. Pioneer Photo/Don Davis

ST. PAUL -- Survivors of severely injured veterans could receive home property tax breaks under a bill Minnesota legislators are examining.

"Most of these are senior citizens," Rep. Al Juhnke, DFL-Willmar, said about people who would be eligible.

Juhnke's bill would allow spouses of severely injured veterans to continue to receive tax breaks after the veterans die. Current law eliminates the breaks within a year of death.

"It's a terrible time to be losing a property tax break a year after losing a disabled spouse," Juhnke said.

The survivor could keep the break until he or she remarries under the Juhnke bill. However, some lawmakers said they were concerned that could influence some people to live together, but not get married, so they can keep the tax break.

Cass County Assessor Steve Kuha said the bill needs to be fixed so they know when a survivor remarries.

"We would not know when a spouse would remarry," he said.

Perhaps veterans' survivors should reapply each year, Kuha suggested.

"I'm not married to the remarry portion," Juhnke said.

Court check-up

A Republican legislator wants to hear testimony about misconduct in the state courts system.

"People feel there is nobody here to hear their voice," Rep. Dan Severson, R-Sauk Rapids, said.

Severson plans to host a Friday morning Capitol meeting to allow people with judicial concerns a chance to testify.

"Our system of checks and balances depends on legislative oversight," Severson said.

More bonding?

Sen. Keith Langseth, DFL-Glyndon, said he is willing to increase public works spending beyond the $367 million he already plans - if other senators demand it.

On Tuesday night, Langseth rolled out a spending bill - funded by the state selling bonds - for projects such as fixing state buildings and constructing new ones. It unanimously passed his Capital Investment Committee and could be heard on the Senate floor as early as next week.

"It seems to me that with the spring construction season approaching very soon, it's important to get this bill passed into law," said Sen. Kubly, DFL-Granite Falls. "Getting the shovels in the ground and projects under way will lead to improvements to our infrastructure, and, more importantly, jobs."

Dumping municipal liquor stores

Rep. Mark Buesgens, R-Jordan, wants to eliminate city-owned liquor stores.

The bill has failed in the past. Many rural communities own their own liquor stores.

"Minnesota municipalities should have only one function: Provide services that the private sector cannot," Buesgens said. "While we can disagree on what those services include, I don't think anyone can rightly believe that cities should be in the retail liquor business; particularly when that business loses money and forces local taxpayers to subsidize the loss."

Marijuana moves

A measure allowing severely ill patients to use marijuana to ease pain passed a committee unanimously on Wednesday.

While the bill still has some House committee stops before it reaches the full House floor, it is making better progress than in past legislative sessions. A similar Senate committee also is progressing.

Don Davis works for Forum Communications Co., which owns the Bemidji Pioneer.