Advocates for military members are hoping the Legislature will enact measures to reduce unemployment among the state's veterans.
A bill proposed for this session would encourage private employers to give veterans job preference. The bill would not make hiring veterans mandatory but it would help them be considered for a job interview.
Sen. Mike Parry, R-Waseca, who chairs the Veterans Committee, is planning to introduce the bill. He will also push for increases in existing veteran preferences for state government jobs and contracts this session.
The changes could help the several thousand Minnesota soldiers returning from Middle East deployments this spring.
Helping returning veterans get back into the job market should be a priority, said Jim Finley, who directs veterans employment programs at the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. "Anything that is going to increase and ultimately get a veteran a job, I believe we are in favor of," Finley. "This really has gone on far too long and we should be employing veterans at a great rate."
There are approximately 23,000 post-Sept. 11 veterans in Minnesota. Around 12 percent of these veterans are unemployed, according to the state Department of Employment and Economic Development. The national rate is around 8 percent.