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Minnesota Legislature

Office of the Revisor of Statutes

Key: (1) language to be deleted (2) new language

                            CHAPTER 390-S.F.No. 3138 
                  An act relating to veterans; making technical changes 
                  regarding duties of the commissioner of veterans 
                  affairs; extending the agent orange information and 
                  assistance program to include other veterans and other 
                  chemicals; authorizing the placement of a plaque in 
                  the court of honor on the capitol grounds to honor 
                  combat wounded veterans; repealing obsolete language; 
                  amending Minnesota Statutes 1998, sections 196.05, 
                  subdivision 1; 196.052; 196.19; 196.21, subdivisions 
                  2, 3 and 4; 196.22; 196.23; 196.24, subdivisions 1 and 
                  2; 196.26; 197.04; 197.05; 197.06; repealing Minnesota 
                  Statutes 1998, sections 196.20; 197.01; 197.02; and 
                  197.49; Minnesota Statutes 1999 Supplement, section 
                  196.27. 
        BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MINNESOTA: 
           Section 1.  Minnesota Statutes 1998, section 196.05, 
        subdivision 1, is amended to read: 
           Subdivision 1.  [GENERAL DUTIES.] The commissioner shall: 
           (1) act as the agent of a resident of the state having a 
        claim against the United States for benefits arising out of or 
        by reason of service in the armed forces and prosecute the claim 
        without charge; 
           (2) act as custodian of veterans' bonus records; 
           (3) administer the laws relating to the providing of bronze 
        flag holders at veterans' graves for memorial purposes; 
           (4) administer the laws relating to recreational or rest 
        camps for veterans so far as applicable to state agencies; 
           (5) administer the state soldiers' assistance fund and 
        veterans' relief fund and other funds appropriated for the 
        payment of bonuses or other benefits to veterans or for the 
        rehabilitation of veterans; 
           (6) cooperate with national, state, county, municipal, and 
        private social agencies in securing to veterans and their 
        dependents the benefits provided by national, state, and county 
        laws, municipal ordinances, or public and private social 
        agencies; 
           (7) provide necessary assistance where other adequate aid 
        is not available to the dependent family of a veteran while the 
        veteran is hospitalized and after the veteran is released for as 
        long a period as is necessary as determined by the commissioner; 
           (8) act as the guardian, conservator, or representative 
        payee of the estate for a minor or an incompetent person 
        receiving money from the United States government when requested 
        to do so by an agency of the United States of America provided 
        sufficient personnel are available; 
           (9) cooperate with United States governmental agencies 
        providing compensation, pensions, insurance, or other benefits 
        provided by federal law, by supplementing the benefits 
        prescribed therein, when conditions in an individual case make 
        it necessary; 
           (10) assist in implementing state laws, rights, and 
        privileges relating to the reemployment of veterans upon their 
        separation from the armed forces; 
           (11) contact, at times as the commissioner deems proper, 
        war veterans, as defined in section 197.447, who are confined in 
        a public institution; investigate the treatment accorded those 
        veterans and report annually to the governor the results of the 
        investigations; and the heads of the public institutions shall 
        permit the commissioner, or the commissioner's representative, 
        to visit any veteran; and, if the commissioner, or the 
        commissioner's representative requests any information relative 
        to any veteran and the veteran's affairs, the head of the 
        institution shall furnish it; 
           (12) assist dependent family members of military personnel 
        who are called from reserve status to extended federal active 
        duty during a time of war or national emergency through the 
        state soldiers' assistance fund provided by section 197.03; and 
           (13) (11) exercise other powers as may be authorized and 
        necessary to carry out the provisions of this chapter and 
        chapters chapter 197 and 198, consistent with those 
        chapters that chapter; and 
           (12) provide information, referral, and counseling services 
        to those veterans who may have suffered adverse health 
        conditions as a result of possible exposure to chemical agents. 
           Sec. 2.  Minnesota Statutes 1998, section 196.052, is 
        amended to read: 
           196.052 [GIFT ACCEPTANCE AND INVESTMENT.] 
           On the behalf of the state, the commissioner may accept any 
        gift, grant, bequest, or devise made for the purposes of this 
        chapter and chapters chapter 197 and 198.  The commissioner must 
        administer the funds as directed by the donor.  All funds must 
        be deposited in the state treasury and, except as provided for 
        in sections 198.16, 198.161, and 198.23, are credited to the 
        veterans affairs endowment, bequest, and devises fund.  The 
        balance of the fund is annually appropriated to the commissioner 
        of veterans affairs to accomplish the purposes of this chapter 
        and chapters chapter 197 and 198.  Funds received by the 
        commissioner under this section or 198.16, 198.161, and 198.23 
        in excess of current needs must be invested by the state board 
        of investment in accordance with section 11A.24.  Disbursements 
        from this fund must be in the manner provided for the issuance 
        of other state warrants.  The commissioner may refuse to accept 
        any gift, grant, bequest, or devise if acceptance would not be 
        in the best interest of the state or Minnesota's veterans.  
           Sec. 3.  Minnesota Statutes 1998, section 196.19, is 
        amended to read: 
           196.19 [AGENT ORANGE ENVIRONMENTAL HAZARDS INFORMATION AND 
        ASSISTANCE ACT; CITATION.] 
           Sections 196.19 to 196.26 may be cited as the "Agent Orange 
        Environmental Hazards Information and Assistance Act." 
           Sec. 4.  Minnesota Statutes 1998, section 196.21, 
        subdivision 2, is amended to read: 
           Subd. 2.  [VETERAN.] "Veteran" means a person who is a 
        resident of this state and who served in the armed forces of the 
        United States of America during the Vietnam era.  
           Sec. 5.  Minnesota Statutes 1998, section 196.21, 
        subdivision 3, is amended to read: 
           Subd. 3.  [CHEMICAL AGENTS.] "Chemical agents" means dioxin 
        or other toxic substances found in certain defoliants, 
        herbicides, pesticides, and similar chemical substances agent 
        orange and any other identified or unidentified chemical 
        substance or compounds suspected by medical experts of adversely 
        affecting the physical, mental, or emotional health of members 
        of the armed forces.  
           Sec. 6.  Minnesota Statutes 1998, section 196.21, 
        subdivision 4, is amended to read: 
           Subd. 4.  [AGENT ORANGE.] "Agent Orange" means a any 
        herbicide, defoliant, or pesticide containing dioxin and 
        composed primarily of trichlorophenoxyacetic acid and 
        dichlorophenoxyacetic acid.  
           Sec. 7.  Minnesota Statutes 1998, section 196.22, is 
        amended to read: 
           196.22 [POWERS AND DUTIES OF THE COMMISSIONER.] 
           Subdivision 1.  [AGENT ORANGE ENVIRONMENTAL HAZARDS 
        INFORMATION AND ASSISTANCE PROGRAM.] The commissioner shall 
        establish and maintain an Agent Orange an environmental hazards 
        information and assistance program.  The commissioner shall:  
           (1) provide information regarding epidemiological, genetic, 
        and other scientific studies proposed, underway, or completed 
        that pertain to adverse health conditions which may be 
        associated with exposure to chemical agents, including Agent 
        Orange; 
           (2) monitor and report on the activities and policies of 
        the United States government relating to the exposure of 
        veterans to chemical agents, including Agent Orange; and 
           (3) respond, within the commissioner's powers and duties 
        under this chapter and chapter 197, to other issues of concern 
        to veterans relating to exposure to chemical agents, including 
        Agent Orange.  
           Subd. 2.  [REFERRAL PROGRAMS.] The commissioner, in 
        cooperation with the United States Veterans Administration, 
        county veterans service officers, and veterans organizations 
        shall institute referral programs to:  
           (1) refer veterans to appropriate federal agencies or other 
        available resources for treatment of adverse health conditions 
        which may have resulted from possible exposure to chemical 
        agents, including Agent Orange; and 
           (2) refer veterans to state, county, or veterans 
        organizations advocacy services to assist them in filing 
        compensation claims for disabilities that may have resulted from 
        possible exposure to chemical agents, including Agent Orange. 
           Subd. 3.  [LIMITED STUDIES.] The commissioner may contract 
        for limited studies regarding the prevalence of adverse health 
        conditions in veterans which may be associated with possible 
        exposure to chemical agents, including Agent Orange.  Prior to 
        contracting for such studies, the commissioner shall consult 
        with the commissioner of health, the University of Minnesota 
        school of public health, and other appropriate scientific and 
        technical advisors pertaining to their design. 
           Subd. 5.  [COMMUNICATION OF VETERANS CONCERNS.] Within the 
        commissioner's powers and duties under chapters 196 and 197, the 
        commissioner shall take any action appropriate to represent to 
        appropriate officials and representatives of the United States 
        government the concerns of veterans related to exposure to 
        chemical agents, including Agent Orange, to appropriate 
        officials and representatives of the United States government. 
           Sec. 8.  Minnesota Statutes 1998, section 196.23, is 
        amended to read: 
           196.23 [AGENT ORANGE ENVIRONMENTAL HAZARDS INFORMATION AND 
        ASSISTANCE SECTION.] 
           Subdivision 1.  [ESTABLISHMENT OF SECTION.] The 
        commissioner shall establish an Agent Orange environmental 
        hazards information and assistance section in the department of 
        veterans affairs.  The section shall be headed by a director.  
        The commissioner shall provide the director with office space, 
        administrative services, and clerical support.  
           Subd. 2.  [POSITION OF DIRECTOR.] The director of the 
        environmental hazards information and assistance section shall 
        be appointed by the commissioner.  The director shall assist the 
        commissioner in carrying out the duties and responsibilities 
        required under sections 196.19 to 196.26.  The commissioner of 
        employee relations, in consultation with the commissioner, shall 
        establish minimum qualifications for the position of director.  
        In setting the minimum qualifications, the commissioner of 
        employee relations shall consider the scientific and technical 
        background necessary to perform the duties under sections 196.19 
        to 196.26. 
           Sec. 9.  Minnesota Statutes 1998, section 196.24, 
        subdivision 1, is amended to read: 
           Subdivision 1.  [INFORMATION TO HEALTH PROFESSIONALS.] The 
        commissioner of health shall provide medical information to 
        health professionals in this state regarding the detection, 
        diagnosis, and treatment of acute and chronic symptoms which may 
        be associated with exposure to chemical agents, including Agent 
        Orange.  
           Sec. 10.  Minnesota Statutes 1998, section 196.24, 
        subdivision 2, is amended to read: 
           Subd. 2.  [GENETIC INFORMATION AND COUNSELING.] The 
        commissioner of health, in cooperation with the health 
        facilities of the University of Minnesota, shall provide genetic 
        information and counseling to veterans who have concerns 
        regarding the possible genetic effects which may be associated 
        with exposure to chemical agents, including Agent Orange.  
           Sec. 11.  Minnesota Statutes 1998, section 196.26, is 
        amended to read: 
           196.26 [CLASS ACTION REPRESENTATION BY ATTORNEY GENERAL.] 
           The commissioner may request the attorney general to 
        represent a class of individuals composed of veterans who may 
        have suffered adverse health conditions as a result of possible 
        exposure to chemical agents, including Agent Orange, in a suit 
        for release of information relating to exposure to these 
        chemicals during military service and for release of individual 
        medical records.  
           Sec. 12.  Minnesota Statutes 1998, section 197.04, is 
        amended to read: 
           197.04 [COMPOSITION OF FUND.] 
           The state soldiers' assistance fund shall consist of all 
        sums paid to or received by the commissioner of veterans affairs 
        under the provisions of sections 197.01 197.03 to 197.07 and of 
        any and all moneys and properties that may be appropriated, 
        donated, given, bequeathed, or devised to the state soldiers' 
        assistance fund or to the commissioner of veterans affairs for 
        the benefit of the fund.  
           Sec. 13.  Minnesota Statutes 1998, section 197.05, is 
        amended to read: 
           197.05 [FUND, HOW EXPENDED.] 
           The state soldiers' assistance fund shall be administered 
        by the commissioner of veterans affairs and shall be used to 
        locate and investigate the facts as to any citizen of Minnesota 
        or resident alien residing in Minnesota who served in the 
        military or naval forces of the United States and who is 
        indigent or suffering from any disability whether acquired in 
        the service or not; to assist the person and the person's 
        dependents as hereinafter provided in establishing and proving 
        any just claim the person may have against the United States 
        government, or any other government or state for compensation, 
        insurance, relief, or other benefits; to provide emergency 
        hospitalization, treatment, maintenance, and relief for any 
        person suffering from disability who was a bona fide resident of 
        the state at the time the need arose and the person's 
        dependents, as hereinafter provided; and to cooperate with other 
        state, municipal, and county officials and civic or civilian 
        agencies or organizations in carrying out the provisions of 
        sections 197.01 197.03 to 197.07.  The commissioner shall limit 
        financial assistance to veterans and dependents to six months, 
        unless recipients have been certified as ineligible for other 
        benefit programs. 
           The fund is appropriated to be used in the manner 
        determined by the commissioner of veterans affairs for these 
        purposes. 
           Sec. 14.  Minnesota Statutes 1998, section 197.06, is 
        amended to read: 
           197.06 [SOLDIERS' WELFARE ASSISTANCE AGENT.] 
           The commissioner of veterans affairs shall have charge of 
        activities as provided in this section, and may employ 
        assistants and incur other expenses as may be necessary for the 
        administration of the state soldiers' assistance fund and 
        carrying out the provisions of sections 197.01 197.03 to 
        197.07.  No expense shall be incurred under the provisions of 
        sections 197.01 197.03 to 197.07 in excess of the moneys 
        available to the state soldiers' assistance fund.  
           The duties and powers of the commissioner of veterans 
        affairs, in addition to those provided elsewhere by law, shall 
        be to: 
           (1) Administer the state soldiers' assistance fund; 
           (2) Cooperate with national, state, county, municipal and 
        private social agencies in securing to former soldiers and their 
        dependents the benefits provided by national, state, and county 
        laws, municipal ordinances, or public and private social 
        agencies; 
           (3) Establish and provide assistance to a former soldier 
        soldiers and their dependents who is are in need of 
        hospitalization but unable to accept it because the acceptance 
        would imperil the soldier's current employment in order to 
        insure employment after hospitalization assistance with optical, 
        dental, or other emergency medical needs; and 
           (4) Provide necessary assistance where other adequate aid 
        is not available to the dependent family of a former soldier 
        while the soldier is being hospitalized and afterwards during 
        such period as is necessary; 
           (5) Cooperate with United States government agencies 
        providing compensation, pensions, insurance or other benefits 
        provided by federal law, by supplementing the benefits 
        prescribed by federal law, when exceptional conditions in an 
        individual case make it necessary; and 
           (6) Establish and provide employment, placement, and 
        advisement service for disabled veterans as cannot be furnished 
        by cooperation with other free public employment agencies. 
           Sec. 15.  [MEMORIAL PLAQUE; COMBAT WOUNDED VETERANS.] 
           A memorial plaque to honor combat wounded veterans may be 
        placed in the court of honor on the capitol grounds.  The plaque 
        must be furnished by other than the department of veterans 
        affairs and approved by the commissioner and the capitol area 
        architectural and planning board. 
           Sec. 16.  [REPEALER.] 
           Minnesota Statutes 1998, sections 196.20; 197.01; 197.02; 
        and 197.49; and Minnesota Statutes 1999 Supplement, section 
        196.27, are repealed. 
           Sec. 17.  [EFFECTIVE DATE.] 
           Section 15 is effective the day following final enactment. 
           Presented to the governor April 11, 2000 
           Signed by the governor April 14, 2000, 2:04 p.m.