Bipartisan group advances legislation to benefit veterans in PA

Bill would smooth path for veterans seeking professional licenses

HARRISBURG, Oct. 4 – A bipartisan group of five legislators is advancing efforts to remove obstacles for military members transitioning to civilian work under a bill approved unanimously by the House Professional Licensure Committee today.

House Bill 1868 – which would increase veterans’ presence on licensing boards and implement other veteran-friendly measures – was introduced by state Reps. Zach Mako, R-Lehigh/Northampton; Dave Hickernell, R-Lancaster/Dauphin; Jake Wheatley, D-Allegheny; Karen Boback, R-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Wyoming; and Chris Sainato, D-Lawrence.

“As a member of the Pennsylvania National Guard, I know how difficult it can be to adjust to life outside the military,” said Mako, prime sponsor of the bill. “We should be doing everything we can to help these men and women who have defended our freedoms. I look forward to the legislation receiving consideration by the full House.”

“This bill will help veterans, service members and their families as they transition to civilian life, smoothing the path for them to join the workforce or start their own businesses,” said Wheatley, who is Democratic chair of the Processional Licensure Committee and a Marine veteran himself. “With the media so often focusing on the disagreements between Democrats and Republicans, it is also an excellent example of the many ways we are working together to make life better for Pennsylvanians.”

“Pennsylvania’s military men and women give some of their prime years to serving our country,” said Sainato, who is Democratic chair of the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee. “Unfortunately, many face challenges transitioning to civilian work – in part, because of licensing regulations that fail to account for military skills, training and experience. The process can prove challenging for military spouses, as well, because of frequent relocations.

“Our bill would help remove those obstacles by adding more veterans and military spouses to state licensing boards, ensuring military experience is properly considered in the review process and providing expedited review, among other measures.”

The lawmakers said the bill would provide for:

  • Increased presence of veterans and military spouses on licensing boards and commissions.
  • Expedited application review for veterans and military spouses, and initial licensure fee waivers for military spouses traveling to Pennsylvania.
  • Consideration of military experience when determining if an applicant meets qualifications.
  • Use of the Military Occupational Codes Crosswalk to help translate military experience into civilian licensure requirements.
  • Early submission for licensure renewals for military being deployed to allow them to immediately return to employment upon return.

The bill, which would also require the PA State Department’s Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs to conduct an annual report and deliver it to the legislative committees, now heads to the state House for consideration.