Markkanen bill to benefit veterans signed into law
Putting skills acquired in uniform to work
LANSING — A bill introduced by state Rep. Greg, Markkanen, R-Hancock, aimed at helping veterans to use acquired skills to professionally excel was signed into law by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Monday.
The law will not only make it easier for qualified veterans to obtain a Commercial Driver’s License, but will also ease the truck driver shortage across Michigan, including the Upper Peninsula.
House Bill 4787, now Public Act 148 of 2021, waives a required knowledge test for a person with military experience applying for a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) in Michigan. CDL applicants must take a skills and knowledge test.
Currently, Michigan, along with every other state, provides a skills test waiver for those who have at least two years of experience operating heavy military vehicles.
Because the state did not previously waive the knowledge portion, it was unable to access a federal program 16 other states participate in allowing for qualified drivers to easily obtain CDLs. The Federal program is the Even-Exchange Program.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website, the federal program, referred to as the Even-Exchange Program, allows qualified military drivers to be exempt from the knowledge test for obtaining a commercial driver’s license.
When used with the Military Skills Test Waiver, states the FMCSA website, this allows a driver to exchange a military license for a CDL.
Military personnel can use this skills test waiver if currently licensed and are or were employed within the past year (12 months) in a military position requiring the operation of a military motor vehicle equivalent to a commercial motor vehicle.
The Military Skills Test Waiver Military Skills Test Waiver Program allows drivers with two years’ experience in safely operating heavy military vehicles to obtain a commercial driver’s license without taking the driving test (skills test). This program is available in every state. To date, more than 40,000 service members and veterans have taken advantage of this waiver program.
According to the FMCSA website, to qualify for the Military Skills Test Waiver, personnel and veterans should have one of the below military occupational specialty or occupational classification:
≤ U.S. Army:
– 88M – Motor Transport Operator
– 92F – Fueler
– 14T – Patriot Launching Station Operator
≤ U.S. Marine Corps:
– 3531 – Motor Vehicle Operator
≤ U.S. Navy:
– EO – Equipment Operator
≤ U.S. Air Force:
– 2TI – Vehicle Operator
– 2FO – Fueler
– 3E2 – Pavement and Construction Equipment Operator
Military personnel can use the skills test waiver if they are currently licensed and are or were employed within the past year (12 months) in a military position requiring the operation of a military motor vehicle equivalent to a commercial motor vehicle.
Markkanen said that 40,000 service members and veterans have taken advantage of this program across the country.
“This new law offers practicality, recognizes the experience these individuals have, and allows Michigan to be competitive for workers,” Markkanen said. “This is going to save our military members, including ones in the U.P., time and hassle when they choose to enter this vital industry.”
Markkanen introduced HB 4787 on May 5, 2021. Though classified as a Partisan bill, HB 4787 passed the House by 608-103 on Dec. 14, and passed the Senate 474-37.