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, initially voted against the bill because he said he does not believe the state should allow any more exemptions for people to receive dividends while living out of state.
But he changed his vote after bringing the measure up for reconsideration at an evening House floor session. He said Peace Corps volunteers do valuable work and he had decided they should not be treated differently from others who are allowed to receive dividends while out of state.
The state allows exemptions from the in-state residency requirement for a number of reasons, including military service, college attendance and care of sick relatives.
McGuire said the Peace Corps exemption was allowed for years until the Legislature removed it in 1998. A measure to restore their eligibility passed the House last year but died in the Senate. This bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.
The cost of adding Peace Corps workers would be negligible, McGuire said. If the 32 Alaskans serving had received dividends last year, other Alaskans' dividends would have gone down about 3 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 33-3. Reps. Nancy Dahlstrom, R-Eagle River; Bob Lynn, R-Anchorage; and Beverly Masek, R-Willow voted against it.
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