Issaquah legislator backs hiring preference for veterans

April 21, 2011

By Warren Kagarise

Ted Wicorek (from right), J.W. Johnson, Booker Stallworth, Mike Gregoire, Gov. Chris Gregoire, Jim Robinson, Marjorie James, Rep. Jay Rodne, Sen. Jeff Baxter, David Black Jr. and Tom Hinman at the Wednesday signing ceremony. Contributed

NEW — 10:30 a.m. April 21, 2011

Gov. Chris Gregoire signed a bill Wednesday to allow employers to give military veterans a leg up in job searches.

State Rep. Jay Rodne, sponsor of the legislation and a 5th Legislative District lawmaker, hailed the measure to establish employment preferences for veterans, widows or widowers of veterans, and spouses of certain veterans. (The district includes Issaquah and East King County.)

“As our veterans return from their duties overseas, it’s important for them to be reintegrated back into our communities. Employment can be a critical vehicle for this transition,” the North Bend Republican said in a statement. “House Bill 1432 simply permits employers to give veterans preference in employment decisions, but it’s not a requirement. This will provide veterans with more employment opportunities and is an appropriate way to honor their service and sacrifices.”

The measure received bipartisan support: a 94-4 vote in the state House of Representatives and a unanimous vote in the state Senate. Sen. Jeff Baxter, R-Spokane Valley, sponsored the companion bill in the upper chamber.

“As an organization with many HR professionals, we are dedicated to simplifying the hiring process in corporate America for veterans so that we can capitalize upon the range of talents and professional values that service members bring,” Marjorie James, president of Hire America’s Heroes and a prime supporter of the initiative, said in a statement. “This legislation makes it easier for the private sector to develop voluntary employment preference programs for those that have served our nation in time of need.”

State law prohibits discrimination based on age, disability, gender, marital status, sexual orientation, race, religion, race or national origin, veteran or military status or sexual orientation. The preferences established under House Bill 1432 do not violate state or local equal employment opportunity laws.

Rodne, a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, completed a tour as the commanding officer of a 1,200-Marine reserve battalion headquartered at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Rodne served overseas in Kuwait and Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003.

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