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Alaska Supreme Court rules against couple in dividends case

May 29, 2019

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — The Alaska Supreme Court has ruled against a military couple seeking permanent fund dividends because they were out of state during required periods, a report said.

The court denied an appeal by Donald Jones and Annette Gwalthney-Jones, The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported Monday.

The couple sought permanent fund dividends for 2014 and 2015 even though they were not physically present in Alaska for several years prior due to Donald Jones’ Air Force assignment.

In the ruling released Friday, the court upheld an administrative ruling that found the residency requirement for them to be physically present in Alaska for 30 days in the five years preceding their applications is clear and inflexible.

The dispute over the couple’s dividends arose out of a change in state law.

The couple’s argument “ignores that the Legislature was aware of and chose to omit the previous regulation’s ‘unavoidable circumstances’ exception,” the ruling said.

Jones was stationed at Elmendorf Air Force Base beginning in 1998 and married Gwalthney-Jones in 2000.

The Air Force transferred Jones in 2001 and he was never reassigned to Alaska, although the couple maintained ties by registering vehicles, holding driver’s licenses, owning property, and casting absentee ballots in Alaska.

Jones received permanent fund dividends from 2001 to 2013 and Gwalthney-Jones received them from 1982 to 2013.

The couple remained eligible for dividends from 2001 to 2013 despite being “largely absent” from Alaska due to a residency exemption benefiting military members.

They received 2016 dividends after returning to the state and re-establishing residency in the view of fund officials.

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Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, http://www.newsminer.com

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