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Saxhaug: Progress made on veterans home proposal

BEMIDJI — Despite little being written into law this session on the Bemidji veterans home proposal, Sen. Tom Saxhaug said Monday progress has been made.

The state government finance bill, which was set to be voted on Monday before the Legislature adjourned at midnight, did not include a provision establishing a veterans home in Beltrami County. That provision was taken out sometime after the bill was introduced in mid-April.

Saxhaug, DFL-Grand Rapids, said that authorization bill was not needed as the home already is on a federal list of proposed projects. Likewise, bonding money to construct the home will likely not come this year, as legislators focus on restoring the state Capitol.

“Next year will be the big bonding bill for the Minneapolis veterans home,” said Saxhaug, who chairs the State Departments and Veterans division of the Senate Finance Committee. “And that’s the key because that has to be done before any of the others get done.”

Saxhaug said it is possible bonding money for planning a Bemidji veterans home will come next year. State Rep. John Persell, DFL-Bemidji, authored multiple bills this session on the veterans home proposal, including one to appropriate $250,000 for design work.  

Local leaders have been pushing to establish a veterans home in Bemidji for years. They cite the long distances to other facilities and the large American Indian population here as reasons to do so.

“We made a lot of progress,” Saxhaug said. “We converted a lot of people into thinking that’s probably the best location in the state of Minnesota.”

John Hageman

John Hageman covers North Dakota politics from the Forum News Service bureau in Bismarck. He attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, where he studied journalism and political science, and he previously worked at the Grand Forks Herald and Bemidji Pioneer.  

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