Juneau representative’s bill makes getting jobs easier for veterans

Bill gets bipartisan, statewide, unanimous support from legislators

For the first time this session, all 40 members of the Alaska House of Representatives passed a bill Wednesday, courtesy of a Juneau representative.

House Bill 71, proposed by Rep. Andi Story, D-Juneau, passed by a clean 40-0 vote on the floor Wednesday. The bill allows for veterans to substitute documented military experience for minimum qualifications for state classified positions.

“Veterans have served our country and should be honored for their service and sacrifice,” Story said on the floor. “The transition to civilian life often proves to be difficult.”

While other bills have passed the House unanimously, this was the first vote where all 40 representatives were present for the vote, according to journal entries on the Alaska Legislature website. The bill had hefty support on both sides of the aisle and from representatives throughout the state, as five Democrats and five Republicans signed on as co-sponsors of the bill.

[Permanent Fund still a major question mark this session]

Rep. David Eastman, R-Wasilla — who is known for being a contrarian in floor votes — met with Story prior to the bill reaching the floor to discuss an amendment to the bill, Story explained on the floor. The two talked through it and came to an agreement, and Eastman (one of the co-sponsors) explained on the floor that his amendment would expand the amount of military experience that can be counted toward a state job.

Story said she appreciated Eastman’s effort to sit down with her beforehand and said they went to Legislative Legal Services to make sure the amendment fit the bill.

“Legislative Legal indicated that the amendment provides clarity that any and all military experience can be used to meet one or multiple requirements for a state position,” Story said on the floor.

Alaska has the highest percentage of veterans in its population for any state, according to U.S. Census numbers, at nearly 14 percent.

Percent of Veterans by State[Source: U.S. Census Bureau]

• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at amccarthy@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.

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