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Governor Dunleavy Signs Purple Heart Trail, Military Spouse Hiring, and Alaska Coordinate System Bills

Aug 12, 2022

Today at American Legion Jack Henry Post 1, Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy signed into law two bills to support Alaska’s military and veteran community, and a third bill to modernize the state’s coordinate system. The bills signed include Senate Bill 203 (SB 203) sponsored by Senator Josh Revak, extending the Purple Heart Trail designation; House Bill 125 (HB 125) sponsored by Representative David Nelson, adding employment preferences for military spouses and their dependents; and House Bill 148 (HB 148) sponsored by Representative Laddie Shaw, updating the Alaska Coordinate System.

With an estimated 65,000 resident veterans and approximately 21,000 active-duty military, Alaska is home to more resident veterans per capita than any other state. The Purple Heart Trail System, a national project to designate portions of the interstate highway system in honor of service men and women who have been awarded the Purple Heart medal, extends across the country, including from the Alaska-Canada Border to Fairbanks. Senate Bill 203 extends the designation from Fairbanks to Homer and along the Alaska Marine Highway System. The legislation also recognizes Alaska’s Gold Star Families with a memorial monument and dedicates an Anchorage bridge to Insook Baik, a Korean American business owner who has dedicated much of her time to the Mountain View community.

“We owe everything to our military families and veterans. By signing these bills, we are doing more than just thanking them for their service – we are taking meaningful action to show Alaska stands beside our service men and women and will continue to support them,” said Governor Mike Dunleavy. “I am proud to sign Senate Bill 203 to honor our Purple Heart veterans and Gold Star families, and House Bill 125 to ensure our military families have every opportunity for success. By supporting our military families, we make our state and country stronger. I thank Senator Revak, a Purple Heart veteran, and Representative Nelson, Alaska National Guard Second Lieutenant, for their service to our country and their work on these bills to support Alaska’s military population.”

“Alaska has more resident veterans per capita than any other state. The Purple Heart Trail is a tangible demonstration of Alaska’s appreciation for the sacrifices made by our wounded and fallen soldiers,” said Senator Josh Revak. “It has been an honor to partner with my brothers in the Military Order of the Purple Heart, my colleagues, and the Governor on this legislation and an even greater honor to serve those who have paved the way for our freedom.”

Military families experience higher than average rates of spousal unemployment and underemployment due to the non-permanent residency that often comes with military service. House Bill 125 amends state law to extend private sector hiring preferences to military spouses and dependent children, including spouses and children of military members who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

“Governor Dunleavy signing House Bill 125 demonstrates the state’s strong commitment to our military and military families. HB 125 will extend the veteran state employment preference to military spouses,” said Representative David Nelson. “I was honored to sponsor this legislation and add Alaska to the growing lists of states – now 35 – that help the spouses of those in the military transitioning to Alaska.”

The third bill signed today, House Bill 148, modernizes the Alaska Coordinate System to reflect changes in the federal datum used as a base for the coordinate system. The updated system will reduce the distortion of the projection currently in use, improve the statewide display of geographic data, and dramatically improve the ability to measure elevations in Alaska. HB 148 benefits Alaska’s infrastructure and development through scientists, surveyors, design professionals, GIS specialists, and the geospatial community.

“Legislative work isn’t always glamourous, and it’s easy to forget just how crucial small and unpolarized Legislation like this is to our state. Without House Bill 148, Alaska could not adopt the newest Federal Mapping Regulations released in March of this year. This Bill is an asset to our citizens and economy by providing our surveyors, engineers, and recreationists access to the most accurate mapping data available – and ensures that it will do so by allowing for updates in the future. I want to thank the unified support in both Bodies for passing this piece of Legislation,” said Representative Laddie Shaw.

“Accurate surveying and mapping are essential to planning and estimating new projects – both military and civilian. I appreciate Representative Shaw’s work to ensure that Alaska’s surveyors, scientists, and geographic specialists have access to the modern improvements of the U.S. National Spatial Reference System,” said Governor Dunleavy.