Bipartisan bill aims to help deployed county employees

January 03, 2019 03:52 PM

Two lawmakers are reaching across the aisle, announcing a bipartisan effort to expand pay for some military members in Minnesota.

The goal is to make sure deployed soldiers can focus on their mission and not troubles at home.

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State Rep. John Lesch and State Sen. Andrew Lang announced plans for their bill Thursday.

The bill would require Minnesota counties to offer differential pay to their employees who are active duty service members. The amount due to the soldier would be the difference between their basic active duty military salary and the salary they would otherwise receive as an active employee if not on military leave of absence.

“During deployments, they don’t expect much in return," Lang said. "They don’t expect much in pay. They don’t expect much on what the state provides them."

The bill would only apply to public employees. The proposed legislation also requires counties to provide retroactive differential pay for time served during 2018.

"If you have happened to serve in your public job, state or local for a while," Lesch said. "And you are making more money and you are staring down the barrel of a 365-day or longer deployment, you are looking at a substantial decrease in pay for serving your country and doing your duty and going above and beyond and getting paid less. That's not the way it should be."

Since 2003, state employees are entitled to receive differential pay while on active duty. Hennepin County and several other counties also provide it, but Ramsey County does not.

Lesch and Lang expect the Veterans and Military Affairs Committees in the House and Senate to consider the bill early in the 2019 legislative session.

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Ashley Zilka

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