A measure granting Minnesota veterans time off on Veterans Day cleared the Minnesota House Friday, over some debate whether it could impact their ability to get jobs.
The bill, authored by Rep. Andrew Falk, DFL-Murdock, passed 111-17. The measure requires employers to provide veterans with paid or unpaid time off on Nov. 11 of each year. Exception can be made if the day off would impact public health or safety or would cause “significant economic or operational disruption.” Veterans must let their employers know 30 days in advance if they plan to take the day off.
Not all lawmakers were behind the bill. Rep. Bob Gunther, R-Fairmont, said lawmakers should strive to create fewer hurdles for returning veterans when it comes to adjusting to civilian life.
“Right now we’re putting up a roadblock for people hiring a veteran because when we need them to work they’re not available,” Gunther said.
Longtime military veteran Rep. Ernie Leidiger said veterans don’t necessarily want to be singled out once they return to civilian life.
“They’re coming back, reintegrating into society and they don’t need a special day,” said Leidiger, R-Mayer. “This kind of a bill can be more of a detriment when you’re mandating that an employer must allow a veteran time off whether it’s paid or unpaid.”
But Rep. Tony Cornish, R-Vernon Center, was incredulous that the bill was under debate, adding that he’d never be able to return to his home’s VFW and say he voted no.
“Some of you live in La La Land if you think all employers treat veterans well. Some of them treat veterans disgracefully,” he said. “This is a ridiculous argument.”
Rep. Mary Murphy, DFL-Hermantown, said the bill was as much about protecting cultural erosion as it was honoring veterans.
“Over the years we are demeaning holidays time and time again. It’s getting to the point that we are using holidays to go shopping,” Murphy said. “This is an opportunity for us as leaders to say ‘This is an important holiday.’”
The measure heads next to the Senate. It’s the latest piece of legislation aimed toward benefiting returning veterans.