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Governor Signs Veteran's Driver's License, Tax Credit Bill Into Law

June 18, 2012, Palmer, Alaska – Rep. Dan Saddler’s legislation allowing Alaskan veterans to document their military service on a state driver’s license or ID card was signed into law today.

“Now Alaska veterans can walk out of the DMV with a state-issued driver’s license giving them convenient, durable proof of their military service, so they can get the discounts and government benefits that they’ve earned by their service to our country,” said Saddler, co-chair of the House Special Committee on Military and Veterans Affairs.

Gov. Sean Parnell signed the bill and three others addressing veteran’s issues, emergency preparedness, and arson at a ceremony at the downtown Palmer fire station. The event was attended by representatives of veterans’ groups, firefighters, local and state emergency preparedness and public safety officials, and members of the public.

Saddler introduced House Bill 180, which was combined with Senate Bill 136 to receive final passage in the final days of the regular legislative session in Juneau.  SB 136 also provides tax credits to businesses who hire veterans through a provision introduced by Sen. Bill Wielechowski.

Alaska has more than 77,000 veterans, and many grateful Alaska businesses offer discounts to those who can prove their military service. Three out of four Alaska veterans, however, are not registered with the state Veterans’ Affairs Office, and may be missing out on benefits to which they’re entitled, including updates on service-related medical issues.

Vets who request the U.S flag designation on their license or ID may also allow the DMV to send their name and address to the state veteran’s office, to help them qualify for state benefits including veterans’ employment preference rights, property tax exemptions, housing and residential loans, land discount/purchase preference and other benefits. Federal veteran benefits include health and life insurance, vocational training, heath care and other services.

“I want to emphasize that the provisions in this bill are entirely optional,” Saddler said.  “If veterans don’t want the license, or if they don’t want to be contacted by the state veteran’s office, we fully respect their choices.”

Saddler thanked the many veterans’ organizations who supported his bill, including the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Military Order of the Purple Heart, Anchorage Veterans Museum, AMVETS, and the Alaska Veterans Advisory Council.

More than a dozen other states have passed legislation similar to SB 136.

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