Pennsylvania, Ohio near opportunities for vets

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Wednesday, October 30, 2013

State lawmakers in Pennsylvania and Ohio are moving closer to adopting rules that are touted as expanding job opportunities for military veterans.

According to the federal government, 46 states have rules in place that allow driver licensing agencies to waive the CDL skills test for qualified military veterans. States that are preparing to offer the skills test waiver are Alaska, New Mexico and South Carolina. Alabama is the lone state yet to act.

The Pennsylvania Senate voted unanimously to sign off on House changes to a bill that would further simplify the process for veterans to get back to work driving truck. The bill, SB277, now moves to Gov. John Corbett’s desk for his signature.

Pennsylvania law already allows service personnel returning from duty to exchange their military CDL for a state-issued CDL without requiring a driving test. However, to be eligible applicants must have at least two years of experience driving a military commercial vehicle “immediately preceding” application for a CDL.

The change approved by lawmakers would make the waiver available at any time within five years after veterans return home.

Sen. Elder Vogel, R-Rochester, said the existing requirement to act immediately is unnecessary.

“The military offers top-notch, real-life training that more than prepares its personnel to handle those vehicles,” Vogel stated. “We should provide very opportunity for service members and veterans to use their skills and training in the civilian world.”

Across the state line in Ohio, a bill halfway through the General Assembly would adopt a similar rule change.

State law requires that applicants must have been regularly employed as a member or uniformed employee of the U.S. armed forces, including the Ohio National Guard, within the past 90 days to qualify for the skills test waiver.

HB98 would remove the recency requirement for the waiver.

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