Senate passes veterans bills

Posted: Sunday, May 12, 2002

JUNEAU (AP) -- Three bills proposed by Gov. Tony Knowles to aid veterans passed the Senate unanimously Saturday.

''This is all positive progress. Veterans can feel good that we've gotten these bills passed,'' said Knowles' spokesman Bob King.

The Senate approved a bill that makes permanent the Alaska Veterans' Advisory Council, which the governor established by administrative order. The bill puts the council in state statute.

The 20-member council is responsible for making recommendations to the state coordinator of veterans' affairs on the needs of veterans, developing public and private partnerships to meet those needs and improving recognition of Alaska's veterans. The group also coordinates information on veterans benefits and services available around the state.

The Senate also approved a bill establishing an endowment with $125,000 in state money to repair and maintain veterans' memorials in Alaska. Private contributions would match the state funding.

Lawmakers also approved a $500 million revenue bond package to finance home loans for veterans. Veterans' mortgage payments would repay the debt.

A fourth bill, which would set aside some beds in the state Pioneers' Homes for veterans, has not yet won passage, but King said the administration was optimistic of passage based on discussions with Senate leaders.

The bills now go to the House.

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