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New Law Will Help Create Job Opportunities for Unemployed Veterans

ANCHORAGE-Senate Bill 136, which provides income tax credits to Alaskan businesses that hire unemployed Alaskan veterans, was signed into law today.  SB 136, sponsored by Senator Bill Wielechowski (D-Anchorage), provides a $2,000 credit for each veteran hired who works at least 1,560 hours within a 12-month period, or approximately 30 hours a week. The bill also includes a $3,000 tax credit for hiring a disabled veteran, and $1,000 tax credit for the seasonal hiring of a veteran if that person is employed for 500 hours or more for three consecutive months.

“Many of these of veterans have done two or three deployments, if not more,” said Senator Wielechowski. “They are willing to risk their lives to defend our nation. Now, it is our job to make sure veterans returning to civilian life get the support they need so they can land on their feet, make a decent living and support their families.”

Despite many employers acknowledging the advantages of hiring someone who has served in the Armed Forces, veterans continue to see higher than average unemployment rates. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 12.1 percent of post-9/11 veterans were unemployed in 2011. That number grows even worse, with 30.1 percent of veterans between the ages of 18 to 24 unemployed during the same time period. That’s compared to a national rate of unemployment of 8.1 percent.

In order to qualify for the tax credits, a business must hire a veteran who has been unemployed for at least four weeks and been released from the military not more than two years before the date of employment. For a disabled veteran, the tax credit is available for not more than 10 years after release from military service.

“I would like to thank my colleagues in the Legislature for their support of this bill,” said Senator Wielechowski. “This legislation shows our appreciation for the men and women who put their lives on the line to serve and protect us.”

Senate Bill 136 also includes a provision sponsored by Rep. Dan Saddler to allow the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to add the word "veteran" and a United States Flag insignia to state drivers' licenses or identification cards signifying the holder's status as a veteran, and would allow the DMV (with the permission of person) to share that information with the state's veterans benefit office. This reliable and convenient proof of a veteran’s status on state-issued identification cards will help them more easily enjoy the full range of personal, business and social benefits offered to them by a grateful state.

For more information, please call Senator Wielechowski at 242-1558 or Kendra Kloster 269-0120.

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