The veteran football

Was a flap on the House floor about veterans, “gotcha” politics – Minnesota style?

Things got a little hot on the floor this afternoon when a lawmaker recommended pensions for retired military veterans be deductible from taxable income in the state. The amendment to a tax bill came from Rep. Dan Severson, a Sauk Rapids Republican and veteran. He said it would create jobs by attracting veterans to the state.

“There are a lot of veterans who will get this who were never in a combat zone,” said Rep. Al Juhnke, a DFLer from Wilmar, whose son is in Iraq.

Rep. Bev Scalze noted there are other people from Minnesota in harm’s way — she cited police officers — who aren’t getting a tax break.

“Let’s not just talk about them (veterans) being a priority, let’s show them,” countered Republican Tom Emmer.

House Minority Leader Marty Seifert said there are only six states that don’t offer a tax break for military pension earnings. “We have ways to pay for this, we’re just not voting for any of them,” he said.

Rep. Ann Lenczewski, who chairs the Taxes Committee, said the Legislature has already doubled combat pay for active military, provided property tax relief for veterans, and “did things for the VFWs and American Legions.” She said it was unfair to give breaks to career military members, and not to active members.

“The poor grunt who’s coming back from Iraq is going to have his earnings taxed to pay for this,” Rep. Tom Rukavinia, DFL-Virginia, said. “It doesn’t seem fair that someone making $100,000 a year is going to get a $2,000 tax break while we raise taxes to help other veterans who don’t get a tax break.”

Some lawmakers contend the amendment was an attempt to get legislators on record “opposing veterans.”

The amendment failed, mostly along party lines, 70-57.

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