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Our view: Catching elected leaders doing good

It's encouraging to us when our elected leaders get it right, when they put aside their political differences and take action to actually help those they represent.

It can be discouraging to them when such behavior flies under the radar. Our elected leaders' shortcomings certainly attract more attention.

So here's a bit of recognition for two measures approved this year by the Minnesota Legislature, both of which took effect this month.

One makes it far easier and more convenient for disabled veterans and the surviving widows or widowers of veterans to tap into a tax break known as the Disabled Veterans' Homestead Market Value Exclusion. Under the exclusion, veterans don't pay property taxes on their homes up to a certain amount, dictated by the severity of their disability. The good deal is well-deserved by those who qualify.

However, until now, the state required veterans or their spouses to apply for the tax break every year. This year's Legislature changed that. As St. Louis County announced last week, they now only have to apply once, as long as their eligibility doesn't change.

This added convenience applies to veterans with service-connected disability ratings of 70 percent or more or whose disabilities are considered 100 percent total and permanent. It also applies to veterans' spouses who receive dependency and indemnity compensation.

Additionally, the county said, the spouse of a deceased veteran who was 100 percent totally and permanently disabled now qualifies for the exclusion even if the veteran never applied for it prior to death. The 2017 Legislature can be thanked for that, too.

To learn more, contact the county's Veterans Service Office in Duluth at (218) 725-5285, in Virginia at (218) 749-7110, in Hibbing at (218) 262-6090, or in Ely at (218) 365-8203. Or go online to stlouiscountymn.gov/veterans.

Another law passed by the Minnesota Legislature this year will result in more Minnesotans with autism spectrum disorders and related conditions receiving early intensive developmental and behavioral intervention benefits. Qualifying conditions were broadened and adults younger than 21 were included for the first time. The law, an update of a 2013 measure, is expected to to provide more flexibility in therapy and treatment and more workplace opportunities for Minnesotans who need them.

Helping constituents: that's why our elected leaders were elected. When they do it, they can be recognized. When they don't, they can expect that it'll attract far more attention.

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