Whitmer, Michigan lawmakers pass legislation to reduce professional licensure barriers for veterans

Whitmer holds press conference with several state lawmakers

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and state lawmakers announced legislation to reduce professional licensure barriers for veterans ahead of Veterans Day.

Whitmer was joined during a Tuesday press conference by Sen. Adam Hollier (D-Detroit), Sen. John Bizon (R-Battle Creek), Rep. Sarah Anthony (D-Lansing), Rep. Andrea Schroeder (R-Independence Township), LARA Director Orlene Hawks, MVAA Director Zaneta Adams, Adjutant General DMVA Director Major General Paul D. Rogers and Lt. Col. Karen Sims.

The legislation supports military personnel, veterans and their families by reducing barriers to professional licensure.

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“Our dedicated military service members put their lives on the line for our families, and we have a duty to ensure their support when they return home,” Whitmer said. “That means making sure they have paths to good jobs so they can sustain their families. Today’s legislation will help us do just that. Clearing the path for our military service members, veterans, and their dependents to enter a licensed profession will help us attract and retain talent in Michigan, and by making it easier for our military service members to be licensed, we can make Michigan their home to live and work, permanently.”

The bipartisan legislation will make current military personnel, veterans and their dependents eligible for license reciprocity in Michigan. Service members will be eligible if they hold a valid occupational license in another state, are in good standing with no pending disciplinary action and demonstrate competency in their profession through education, training and/or work experience.

The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs will determine whether all three criteria are satisfied.

“This is a meaningful step we can take to honor the many sacrifices of our military families,” Hawks said. “To help attract these families to locate or stay in Michigan, LARA is committed to expediting licensure by processing completed applications within 48 hours.”

“As a veteran, the spouse of a veteran and now the Director of the MVAA, I have experienced many of the barriers that our veterans and their families face when transitioning to a new location or to civilian life,” Adams said. “This initiative will make a difference and go a long way to encourage those who are seeking a professional license by making it a seamless process.”

“This program will remove significant barriers of employment and economic hurdles for our military members and their families and is an added benefit to serving in Michigan," Rogers said. “As the state continues to invest in programs like this, we collectively show that Michigan as a great place for military and veterans to live, work, raise a family and retire.”

Veterans are currently eligible for initial license, registration or application fee waivers for professional occupations regulated under the Occupational Code and the Skilled Trades Regulation Act. This legislation will expand present fee waivers under those acts to include dependents of veterans and those on active duty.

Fee waivers will also be extended to health professions licensed under the Public Health Code. A dependent is defined as a spouse or child under the age of 26.

“This legislative package is a perfect example of how state government can make people’s lives easier, not harder,” Anthony said. “We know that military life poses unique challenges, yet many of our state’s licensing regulations and fees reflect a one size fits all approach. There’s no reason why our laws can’t be tailored to reflect the unique needs of military service members, veterans and their families. By streamlining the licensing process and expanding fee waivers for these individuals, we can ensure all qualified employees are connected with the jobs they need.”

“This is an important change that would allow health care professionals, skilled trades experts and many others to find jobs in Michigan more quickly – cutting through red tape that causes needless delays,” Schroeder said. “These reforms will support our military families, who have sacrificed so much to protect us, and the communities in which they live.”

“I am in the Army Reserves. When I’m on duty, only I travel to serve. My family stays home when I’m in uniform," Hollier said. “For my active duty counterparts, their entire family moves across the country, to allow our service members to do their job protecting us. My buddy, Captain Kukowski, and his wife have moved four times. She’s had to pass four exams and paid for licenses in four states to do the same job as a pharmacist for the same company. On their last move she opted not to jump through all the hoops and focus solely and raising their child, which is a decision few men ever have to make. Passing these bills will show their family we value their service and sacrifice and finally stop punishing the families who already give us so much.”

“With these bills, we are helping our veteran and military families by removing the government red tape preventing them from continuing their careers here in Michigan,” Bizon said. “Military spouses in professions that require licensure can be left jobless with a sudden move to a new state. These bills would help ease their transition and financial burdens by allowing military family members to pick up their careers in Michigan without unnecessary delay.”

Examples of licensing resources include:

  • Utilizing military experience towards licensing.
  • Providing an exemption for renewal fees while on active duty.
  • Providing an exemption for continuing education requirements while on active duty.
  • Granting temporary licenses for active duty military personnel’s spouses.
  • Granting a waiver for the initial license or initial registration fee for veterans.
  • Granting a waiver for the initial application processing fee for veterans.
  • Providing a reimbursement from Federal Department of Veterans Affairs for required and paid for examination fees.

About the Author:

Derick is a Senior Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.