North Star Newsletter: Cutting Red Tape for Minnesota's Veterans

Senator Al Franken
2013-07-18 12:35:40
North Star Newsletter | July 2013 Cutting Red Tape for Minnesota's Veterans Last month, I had my staff hold a series of roundtables around the state with veterans about, among other things, how they are being affected by the VA benefit claims backlog. Right now veterans are waiting far too long to start receiving the benefits they've earned—nearly 300 days on average for a claim to be processed. And that's why I recently introduced legislation with Congressman Tim Walz (D-Minn.), who represents southern Minnesota, to help clear up the backlog and cut the red tape that's keeping veterans from their benefits. You can read about our bill here. In addition to getting input about the backlog, my staff was able to update Minnesota's veterans on the many other efforts we're working on, such as legislation I'll soon be reintroducing to increase access to health care for veterans in rural areas. We have a responsibility to take care of the men and women who have served our nation, and meeting that obligation is one of the most important things I can do in the Senate. Our veterans, who have sacrificed so much in the line of duty, deserve the benefits they've earned. And I'm committed to finding ways to ensure that we keep our promises to them. Working to Fill Open, High-Skills Jobs in Minnesota Traveling around Minnesota gives me the opportunity to talk with businesses about how I can help them. Sadly, everywhere I go, business owners tell me there are job openings they want to fill that they can't, because they can't find workers with the right skills—a problem called the "skills gap." And right now, about a third of manufacturers in our state aren't able to find workers to fill their needs. So last week I introduced legislation to help close this gap. My bill is based on successful partnerships I've seen in Minnesota where businesses and community and technical colleges come together to train the workers they need. Funding these partnerships is a commonsense solution to a real problem and is win-win: students who graduate can get a job, and businesses with open jobs can get the skilled workforce they need. Taking Key Steps to Ensure Equality for LGBT Americans This summer we've taken two steps toward ensuring equality for LGBT Americans: the end of a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act, and a critical vote on legislation that would outlaw employment discrimination for LGBT workers. As a long-time supporter of marriage equality, I've been fighting for years to stop discrimination against same-sex couples and their children. So I'm very happy that last month the U.S. Supreme Court found a provision of DOMA unconstitutional. We're now closer to ensuring marriage equality for every American. And last week, we passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act out of the Senate Labor Committee, which prohibits discrimination in the workplace for LGBT workers. In Minnesota, about 1,700 same-sex couples are raising over 3,400 children. ENDA is not just about LGBT workers, but also employment stability for these households. You can read more about that legislation here. Our country is starting to understand that it's not about what a family looks like: it's about their love and commitment to one another. Moving Forward to Fix our Broken Immigration System We all know our immigration system is broken, is a drag on our economy, and needs to be fixed. The good news is that last month, the Senate passed a broad bipartisan immigration reform bill that supports businesses and agriculture while protecting workers—the bottom line is, it's good for Minnesota. The legislation—which cuts over $800 billion from the federal deficit—takes steps to secure the border, help businesses and agriculture, and provides a tough but fair pathway for people to get right with the law. These are commonsense fixes that will help the entire country. But the bill isn't just about economics—it's about our values. That's why I championed amendments to protect young children and victims of domestic violence. Overall, it's a good bill for Minnesota. And I hope that the U.S. House of Representatives will take up and pass immigration reform in a timely manner. To unsubscribe from these newsletters, please visit the unsubscribe page here: franken.senate.gov/

North Star Newsletter | July 2013

Last month, I had my staff hold a series of roundtables around the state with veterans about, among other things, how they are being affected by the VA benefit claims backlog. Right now veterans are waiting far too long to start receiving the benefits they've earned—nearly 300 days on average for a claim to be processed.

And that's why I recently introduced legislation with Congressman Tim Walz (D-Minn.), who represents southern Minnesota, to help clear up the backlog and cut the red tape that's keeping veterans from their benefits. You can read about our bill In addition to getting input about the backlog, my staff was able to update Minnesota's veterans on the many other efforts we're working on, such as legislation I'll soon be reintroducing to increase access to health care for veterans in rural areas.

We have a responsibility to take care of the men and women who have served our nation, and meeting that obligation is one of the most important things I can do in the Senate. Our veterans, who have sacrificed so much in the line of duty, deserve the benefits they've earned. And I'm committed to finding ways to ensure that we keep our promises to them.

Traveling around Minnesota gives me the opportunity to talk with businesses about how I can help them. Sadly, everywhere I go, business owners tell me there are job openings they want to fill that they can't, because they can't find workers with the right skills—a problem called the "skills gap." And right now, about a third of manufacturers in our state aren't able to find workers to fill their needs.

So last week I introduced legislation to help close this gap. My bill is based on successful partnerships I've seen in Minnesota where businesses and community and technical colleges come together to train the workers they need.

Funding these partnerships is a commonsense solution to a real problem and is win-win: students who graduate can get a job, and businesses with open jobs can get the skilled workforce they need.

This summer we've taken two steps toward ensuring equality for LGBT Americans: the end of a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act, and a critical vote on legislation that would outlaw employment discrimination for LGBT workers.

As a long-time supporter of marriage equality, I've been fighting for years to stop discrimination against same-sex couples and their children. So I'm very happy that last month the U.S. Supreme Court found a provision of DOMA unconstitutional. We're now closer to ensuring marriage equality for every American.

And last week, we passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act out of the Senate Labor Committee, which prohibits discrimination in the workplace for LGBT workers. In Minnesota, about 1,700 same-sex couples are raising over 3,400 children. ENDA is not just about LGBT workers, but also employment stability for these households. You can read more about that legislation Our country is starting to understand that it's not about what a family looks like: it's about their love and commitment to one another.

We all know our immigration system is broken, is a drag on our economy, and needs to be fixed. The good news is that last month, the Senate passed a broad bipartisan immigration reform bill that supports businesses and agriculture while protecting workers—the bottom line is, it's good for Minnesota.

The legislation—which cuts over $800 billion from the federal deficit—takes steps to secure the border, help businesses and agriculture, and provides a tough but fair pathway for people to get right with the law. These are commonsense fixes that will help the entire country. But the bill isn't just about economics—it's about our values. That's why I championed amendments to protect young children and victims of domestic violence.

Overall, it's a good bill for Minnesota. And I hope that the U.S. House of Representatives will take up and pass immigration reform in a timely manner.

To unsubscribe from these newsletters, please visit the unsubscribe page here: