by Bruce Walker
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer convened a news conference Tuesday to announce the introduction of bipartisan legislation to ease professional licensing restrictions for military personnel, veterans and their families in Michigan.
The governor called the package a piece of “crucial legislation” that will provide military families the “support they need.”
The bill, introduced one day before the nation commemorates Veterans Day, grants licensing reciprocity in Michigan for military personnel, veterans and their dependents, provided they possess a valid occupational license from another state. Additional criteria to qualify include requirements the license holder is currently in good standing with no pending disciplinary action; and demonstrates competency through education, training and/or work experience.
The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) will determine whether these criteria are satisfied.
At present, military veterans qualify for fee waivers when applying for an initial license or registration. SB 1223 expands those waivers to include Active Duty military personnel, as well as spouses and dependents of both active duty and veteran women and men. Dependents are defined as a spouse or child under the age of 26.
Additionally, fee waivers will be granted to health professions licensed under the Public Health Code.
“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.”
“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,” she added.
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.
“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,” Michigan Adjutant General and Director of Michigan’s Department of Military and Veterans Affairs Major General Paul Rogers said.
“As the state continues to invest in programs like this, we collectively show that Michigan is a great place for military and veterans to live, work, raise a family and retire,” Rogers said.
Rep. Sarah Anthony, D-Lansing, was also present at the governor’s news conference. Anthony said the new legislation serves as a “perfect example of how state government can make people’s lives easier, not harder.”
Anthony continued: “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.”
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Bruce Walker is a regional editor at The Center Square. He previously worked as editor at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s MichiganScience magazine and The Heartland Institute’s InfoTech & Telecom News.