Thursday, June 18, 2009

Free Rides for Disabled Veterans

Starting July 1, disabled veterans will get free ride when they show ID card from U.S. Department of Veterans Affair or state commissioner of veterans affairs certifying that they suffered a permanent disability related to their military service.


ST. PAUL, MN - When retired Army Sergeant Major Jerry Newton was elected to serve in the Minnesota Legislature this year, he brought some new ideas to the State Capitol on how to improve the lives and businesses of disabled veterans. State Rep. Newton (DFL - Coon Rapids) has introduced several bills this session that would: 1) offer state contracting preference to disabled vets (HF715); and 2) allow disabled veterans to ride free on Metro Transit buses and commuter trains (HF1356). “These are guys that gave more than their share to preserve freedom and liberty at home and abroad,” said Rep. Newton. “They deserve our gratitude and respect, and in many instances they need our help.” One of Newton’s bills receiving considerable attention this session is an effort that would give preference to businesses owned by disabled veterans when letting state and some metropolitan agency projects. Disabled vets who own businesses in Minnesota already receive preference for contract work with the federal government - but currently the State of Minnesota has no such system in place. Under Rep. Newton’s bill businesses 51% owned by disabled veterans would be given the opportunity to bid up to 6 percent higher on a contract and still be considered the low bidder. “It’s hard enough for disabled vets to find a job when they come home,” said Newton. “But some disabled veterans come home and start businesses that employ dozens and even hundreds of people - doing a service to their country and their community. Passing this bill is a way for us to say thanks, and to make business just a little easier for those who have served our country in more ways than one.” Rep. Newton also wants to extend free ridership privileges to disabled Minnesota veterans on Metro Transit buses and commuter trains. Newton hopes that letting disabled vets ride free will give them easier access to the Minneapolis VA Medical Center near the airport, and provide convenient access to transportation throughout the Metro area. “This bill just makes sense,” said Newton. “Many disabled veterans have no way to get to and from the VA Hospital other than the Disabled American Veterans transportation service - a service that provides transportation for thousands of veterans in Minnesota every year. By giving disabled vets free fare on our Metro Transit buses and trains, that will relieve strain on the DAV, and give veterans more convenient transportation options to not only the VA Hospital, but throughout the Metro as well.” Both of Rep. Newton’s bills have been received well by members of both parties at the State Capitol this year. Each piece of legislation is moving through the legislative process. More information about HF715 and HF1356 can be found online at

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