Tuesday, May 17, 2011

State Supports Economic Opportunity for Vets

In a tough state budget year, the Legislature clearly recognized the importance of increasing economic opportunity for military personnel, veterans and their families.

The Chamber, along with the DoD State Liaison, Prosperity Partnership and others supported two successful bills making it easier to transfer professional training from the military into civilian jobs - HB 1418 and SB 5307. Yesterday, the Governor signed HB 1418 - directing the Department of Licensing to count military training toward licensing in careers such as cosmetology, land surveying and security guards. Last month the Governor signed into law SB 5307, authorizing the Department of Health to recognize military experience in a wide variety of medical fields from physical therapy to dentistry.

These successes add to a growing track record of achievement for the Chamber and our partners in the military and community. Recently, we celebrated the success of allowing military driver's training to count toward an equivalent civilian Commercial Driver's License (CDL) program. Prior to this, service members were required to duplicate costly and time-consuming commercial courses covering skills they had used for years in the military.

In related military news, veterans gained more support when the Governor signed into law HB 1432, allowing private employers to voluntarily give a preference to hiring veterans and widows or widowers of veterans without violating federal and state anti-discrimination statutes. The legislation, introduced by Hire America's Heroes, allows private companies to give employment preference to spouses of certain honorably discharged veterans who became permanently disabled during their service.

Although not economic issues, the previous legislative session adding Washington to the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children, which helps military families achieve better educational continuity when transferring between school districts and states, and the current session’s action for active-duty absentee voting, also were great improvements in our state’s military sector support.

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