JUNEAU (AP) Peace Corps volunteers could keep getting permanent fund dividends while they're out of the country under a bill passed Friday by the state House.
Rep. Lesil McGuire, R-Anchorage, sponsored the bill. She said the international volunteers make a financial sacrifice to do work that helps bring stability and foster democracy in troubled parts of the world, and they deserve the state's support.
It sends a message to these folks that we value what they do,'' McGuire said.
Rep. Bruce Weyhrauch, R-Juneau, said he supports the Peace Corps but was voting against the bill because he does not believe the state should allow any more exemptions for people to receive dividends while living out of state.
The state allows exemptions for other reasons, including military service and college attendance.
McGuire maintains the Peace Corps exemption is not new but one that was allowed for years until the Legislature removed it in 1998.
The cost to the program of adding Peace Corps workers would be negligible, McGuire said. If the 32 Alaskans serving had received dividends in 2000 and 2001, other Alaskans' dividends would have gone down about 8 cents, she said.
House Bill 205 also includes provisions to make it easier for the state to go after people who fraudulently apply for dividends.
The bill passed the House 27-8. Reps. Nancy Dahlstrom, R-Eagle River; Carl Gatto, R-Palmer; Jim Holm, R-Fairbanks; Bob Lynn, R-Anchorage; Beverly Masek, R-Willow; Bill Stoltze, R-Chugiak; Kelly Wolf, R-Kenai; and Weyhrauch voted against it.
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