Pennsylvania, Ohio will soon offer better opportunities for vets

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 11/15/2013

Military veterans in Ohio and Pennsylvania interested in getting behind the wheel of a truck stateside are on the verge of new opportunities.

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, including Ohio and Pennsylvania. 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.

In Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Corbett signed a bill into law to simplify the process for veterans to get back to work driving truck.

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.

Previously SB277, the new law makes the waiver available at any time within five years after veterans return home. It takes effect Jan. 1, 2014.

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

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

Across the state line in Ohio, a bill awaiting Gov. John Kasich’s signature would adopt a similar rule change.

Ohio 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. If signed into law, it would take effect immediately.

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