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Governor Aims to Increase Opportunities for Veterans

Submits Bill to Expand Hiring Preferences and Strengthen Survivor Benefits

January 29, 2014, Juneau, Alaska – Governor Sean Parnell today introduced legislation to expand opportunities for veterans in Alaska by strengthening veterans’ job opportunities. The legislation also implements the Heroes Earnings Assistance and Relief Tax (HEART) Act, ensuring military families receive full survivor benefits for fallen soldiers.

“Our veterans and their families are the lifeblood of our nation,” Governor Parnell said. “With more veterans per capita than any other state, our legislation ensures that Alaska veterans, as well as their families, have the resources they need. I look forward to working with legislators on this critical piece of legislation.”

The governor’s legislation updates employment and housing preference eligibility statutes to include veterans of the 1991 Gulf War, and veterans who served on active duty during Operation Iraqi Freedom. The bill also contains provisions to include veterans of future conflicts, should they arise. This provision ensures each and every veteran is included in the state’s veteran hiring preference. 

Additionally, the legislation, specifically the HEART Act, seeks to ensure families of fallen soldiers receive full survivor benefits as they apply to the state PERS, TRS and JRS retirement plans. Specifically, the bill will require employers to treat workers as if they were rehired the day before they died, ensuring that the worker is covered by the retirement plan at the time of death.

“Our men and women serving our country should not have to worry about their families,” Governor Parnell said. “The legislation I am putting forward will make sure their loved ones receive the full benefits they’ve earned.”

There are more than 74,000 veterans who call Alaska home.

“In addition to our many veterans, Alaska is privileged to have some 25,000 active military members and their families in our state,” Governor Parnell added.

A copy of the bills and transmittal letters is available at:

http://gov.alaska.gov/parnell_media/resources_files/veteransbill_012914.pdf

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