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Bill Extending PFD Allowable Abscence Passes Legislature

HB 52 strengthens guidelines and changes criteria for those living out of state

Saturday, April 13, 2013, Juneau, Alaska – The Alaska House of Representatives today concurred with Senate changes to legislation addressing residency issues for the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend and tightening restrictions on allowable absences.

House Bill 52 corrects an unintended consequence of legislation put into place more than a decade ago which limits allowable absences to 10 years, in turn denying a PFD check to those lifelong Alaskans serving in the military. The new statute will strengthen the Permanent Fund Division’s position that after an absence of five years someone is presumed to have no intent of returning to the state.

Rep. Eric Feige said that during years one through five of an allowable absence the applicant must only provide documentation that supports the absence. Beginning in year six, the applicant will be required to provide convincing evidence to the department that they intend to return to the state. Using an objective evaluation system developed by the division, they will evaluate an individual’s intent of returning to the state and make a judgment whether or not to approve the applicant’s request.

“Once individuals choose to serve in the Armed Forces and are sworn into service, they do not have the option to choose to be physically present in Alaska,” Feige, R-Chickaloon, said. “This bill will bring equality to those that serve our state and country.”

The division currently evaluates approximately 1,300 applications each year to determine if an individual intends to return to the state and pays approximately 67 percent of those applications. Once these guidelines are strengthened by this bill, the number is expected to decrease, thus reducing the number of individuals on an allowable absence beginning with year six.

“If members of Congress and their staff are able to collect a PFD while serving in Washington, then I would hope that we would extend the same courtesy to our men and women who serve this country,” Feige said.

HB 52 was amended in the Senate by Senator Lesil McGuire, R-Anchorage, to include allowable absences for members training or competing as a member of the United States national team for an Olympic sport.

HB 52 passed the House February 25 and now heads to the Governor for signature.

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