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Bill would give veterans option of asking for Veterans’ Day off

ST. PAUL — Minnesota veterans could request to take off Veterans’ Day under a bill a House committee passed Wednesday.

Rep. Andrew Falk, D-Murdock, said that veterans often cannot attend events honoring them because they are stuck at work.

“This is a holiday meant to honor these selfless men and women,” said Stephanie Vorvick of the Chippewa County Veterans’ Service Office.

While members of the House State Government Finance and Veterans’ Affairs Committee said they support veterans, many said they have problems with the bill, which passed on to other committees on a split voice vote.

“It happens every single year,” Rep. Ernie Leidiger, R-Mayer, said about Veterans’ Day. “If they want to really be there, they can make arrangements to be there.”

Falk’s bill would not require an employer to give a worker the day off. A worker who is a veteran would need to tell his employer 30 days in advance if he wants to take off Veterans’ Day, and the employer would have to let him know if the request was granted.

Vorvick said the legislation is needed because now only 80-year-old veterans can attend the Nov. 11 ceremonies. “The ones who want to go to these programs, they don’t go to them because they are already working.”

The bill concerned Rep. Ron Kresha, R-Little Falls, because it would interfere with the employer-employee relationship.

Committee Chairwoman Mary Murphy, D-Hermantown, said family members also sacrificed.

“What about the mother of the veteran who waited at home?” she asked. “Are we going to include others, or are we going to say, ‘No?’”

Vorvick told Murphy other family members would understand Veterans’ Day should be just for veterans.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.