NEWS: House Approves Legislation to Remove Barriers to Employment for Veterans in Alaska

House Bill 6 Allows an Optional Veteran Hiring Preference for Private Employers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 14, 2015

JUNEAU – Today, the Alaska House of Representatives unanimously passed House Bill 6 that allows private employers to give a hiring preference to veterans.  Every state has a veterans hiring preference in place for public employment.  However, private employers are not permitted to offer the same benefit without violating federal law. The legislation is sponsored by Representative Chris Tuck (D-Anchorage) and is supported by the United States Department of Defense.

“Alaska has the highest per-capita number of veterans in the nation and those veterans are highly skilled employees with a strong sense of responsibility,” said Rep. Tuck.  “It is important we are sending a message that we support our service members and provide small businesses equal opportunities.” 

Many veterans report that finding a job is the greatest challenge to transitioning to civilian life and the latest estimates suggest that nearly 600,000 veterans are unemployed.  As of March 2015, young male veterans experienced an unemployment rate of 19 percent.

The Department of Defense has learned many private sector employers would like to hire veterans because of their unique skill sets, proven work ethic, and reliability, but are hesitant to do so out of fear of being sued. House Bill 6 takes advantage of an option available under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to allow private employers to institute a veterans hiring preference without having to fear discrimination allegations.   

“Last year, 2,450 military personnel left the service and returned to Alaska and similar numbers are expected in the next few years,” said Rep. Tuck.  “It just makes sense to allow the private sector to offer the same advantages to returning veterans as is offered by public employers.”

To date, 17 states have adopted legislation allowing a private sector veterans hiring preference and 14 additional states have legislation pending.

HB 6 has bipartisan support in the Alaska Legislature will now go to the Senate for consideration before the end of the first session of the 29th Alaska Legislature.

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