AUGUSTA, Maine — Gov. Paul LePage took new steps Thursday to promote the hiring of veterans in Maine, particularly by state departments and agencies.

LePage introduced to the Legislature a new bill, LD 1658, which would give military veterans preference when applying for government jobs, in the form of guaranteeing them an interview if they meet the minimum qualifications for the job and if they were not dishonorably discharged.

LePage complemented that bill with an executive order that directs the state’s Bureau of Human Resources with developing and instituting a policy that any veteran who applies for but is not hired for a state job is given guidance on other jobs for which he or she might qualify.

“Having an opportunity for an interview and referral to additional openings is a best practice in the hiring of veterans,” said Joyce Oreskovich, director of the Bureau of Human Resources. “The guaranteed interview for qualified veterans provides not only an incentive to apply, which assists the state in its recruitment efforts, but also gives veterans meaningful opportunities to discuss their military background as it applies to the competencies we need for particular jobs.”

LD 1658 was one of three new bills proposed around hiring practices Thursday by LePage. The others were:

LD 1663, An Act to Promote Recruitment and Retention of State Employees.This bill would make a series of changes to hiring and retention practices, including assigning salary amounts and bonuses not outlined in collective bargaining agreements.

LD 1664, An Act to Enable the State to Hire Qualified Applicants for Vital State Jobs. This bill would allow the state’s director of human resources to develop tests for job applicants to determine if they are qualified, as opposed to current law, which says an applicant for a position in state government may not be rejected solely because of educational requirements.

LePage also has proposed a bill Thursday that would toughen sentences in certain domestic violence cases:

LD 1654, An Act to Strengthen Protection from Abuse Laws. This bill would require a minimum sentence of 30 days in prison for anyone convicted of violating a protection-from-abuse order and a minimum two-year sentence for anyone who violates a protection order that creates a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury. It also creates a Class C crime of false claim, which occurs when a person seeking a protection order or divorce makes false claims during court proceedings regarding such things as child abuse or neglect.

Christopher Cousins

Christopher Cousins has worked as a journalist in Maine for more than 15 years and covered state government for numerous media organizations before joining the Bangor Daily News in 2009.