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Editorial: Minnesota should help ‘float the boat’

America’s newest commissioned submarine, the USS Minnesota, will submerge as a matter of routine. But the Twin Cities chapter of the Navy League will work to keep awareness of the ship in plain view.

That way, USS Minnesota sailors always will know they’re remembered by their namesake state, even when the vessel is far from home.

Several Park Rapids area residents were at the commissioning in September.

Now, here’s another place where the issue is sure to surface: the Minnesota Legislature.

Rep. Bob Dettmer, R-Forest Lake, explains why.

“In partnership with the Navy League of the Twin Cities, I chief-authored legislation last spring to provide modest funding to support the commissioning exercises for the USS Minnesota,” Dettmer wrote.

“The Navy does not provide funding for ships to hold their commissioning ceremonies or to support families of the crew.

“Most state governments provide small financial backing for their ships. When the USS North Dakota was commissioned, its Legislature quickly passed $300,000 to support the ship. ... In New Mexico, $300,000 was allocated to support their submarine.

“In Minnesota, I led advocates for our ship in seeking $200,000. A portion of the funding was intended to create an endowment for a college scholarship to be awarded each year to a crewmember or a crewmember’s family. Many states, like Missouri and Mississippi, provide scholarship endowment support for the crew of their ships.”

Alas, “funding for the Minnesota was put off by legislative leadership.”

Instead, the Twin Cities chapter raised the money from private sources, and the commissioning ceremony was held on schedule on Sept. 7.

Now, “I will be authoring the bill again to provide state support for these efforts when the legislature returns for our 2014 session,” Dettmer continued.

Dettmer’s proposal is a good one for Minnesota.

For only the third time in American history, a U.S. Navy ship now carries the proud name of the state, he noted. It’s right for Minnesota to respond, and endowing a fund that will help generations of sailors and their families would be a powerful start for the 2014 session.


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