March 3, 2005: Headlines: Benefits: Fund Dividend: KTUU: Alaska House panel OKs dividends for Peace Corps volunteers

Peace Corps Online: State: Alaska: February 8, 2005: Index: PCOL Exclusive: Alaska : March 3, 2005: Headlines: Benefits: Fund Dividend: KTUU: Alaska House panel OKs dividends for Peace Corps volunteers

By Admin1 (admin) (pool-151-196-123-27.balt.east.verizon.net - 151.196.123.27) on Friday, March 04, 2005 - 11:27 pm: Edit Post

Alaska House panel OKs dividends for Peace Corps volunteers

Alaska House panel OKs dividends for Peace Corps volunteers

Alaska House panel OKs dividends for Peace Corps volunteers

House panel OKs dividends for Peace Corps volunteers

Thursday, March 3, 2005 - by Bill McAllister

Juneau, Alaska - A legislative committee decided today that people in the Peace Corps deserve to get a Permanent Fund dividend, even though they may be living outside Alaska. However, Alaskans serving as diplomats in the foreign service are out of luck.

To get a Permanent Fund dividend, applicants must prove they are Alaska residents, except for people with specific circumstances that the law exempts. Thursday, a House committee looked favorably on adding one exemption but decided against another.

When dividends first went out to Alaskans in 1982, Peace Corps volunteers were among those who did not have to meet the residency requirements. That changed in 1998, when the Legislature rewrote the dividend eligibility law.

"It's unclear. There isn't a lot of record about why it was taken out," said Rep. Lesil McGuire, R-Anchorage. "It was done without public testimony. It was done in sort of the dark of the night. Itís something thatís always troubled me."

Rep. McGuire's bill to reinstate the residency exemption for Peace Corps volunteers got a favorable hearing Thursday in the House State Affairs Committee. McGuire says that's a recognition of the nobility of their work.

"Peace Corps volunteers from Alaska come back and teach in our schools," she said. "They often teach the foreign language programs in schools. They work in our community as public health officials. And, frankly, many of them even die on the front line."

McGuire also sought to provide an exemption for Alaskans who go into the foreign service. Former KTUU-TV reporter Mark Wenig, who has been working for the state department since 1994, says that he should not be treated differently than Alaskans in the military, who receive PFDs.

"We want to have our work valued by the people of Alaska and I think not have people think that we're living some kind of privileged life," Wenig said. "I can assure people that we live in very, very difficult places."

But it looks like Wenig will head to his new posting in Germany this summer without restoration of his dividend eligibility. The State Affairs Committee removed diplomats from the bill today.

"If you or I went to Mali as Peace Corps workers, we could expect to get maybe $40 or $50 a month," said Rep. Berta Gardner, D-Anchorage. "If we went with the foreign service, we could be making $50,000 a year."

So far, the committee seems to be saying that it wants to reward Alaskans for doing good, not necessarily for doing well.

The committee is scheduled to take up McGuire's bill again Saturday. Another part of the bill would make it easier for the Department of Revenue to collect fines for attempted PFD fraud.





When this story was posted in March 2005, this was on the front page of PCOL:

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Story Source: KTUU

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Benefits; Fund Dividend

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