Veterans' Affairs Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

HB-5299

Title:

AN ACT CONCERNING THE FINDINGS OF THE MILITARY OCCUPATIONAL SPECIALTY TASK FORCE.

Vote Date:

3/11/2014

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable Substitute

PH Date:

2/25/2014

File No.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Veterans' Affairs Committee

Rep. Al Adinolfi, 103rd Dist.

Rep. Joe Aresimowicz, 30th Dist.

Rep. Bob Godfrey, 110th Dist.

Rep. Jeffrey J. Berger, 73rd Dist.

REASONS FOR BILL:

*** Substitute Language: In Section 1 of the bill, the words “military training” has been replaced with “part of training during service in the armed forces”. The definition of a veteran is now described as someone who has been honorably discharged or discharged under honorable conditions. Additionally, the commercial driver's license (CDL) knowledge test has been adjusted to reflect that the test cannot be waived according to federal law. However, the driving portion (skill) test may still be waived for the veteran upon completion of the knowledge test. Section 4 – Alters the language and adds that the Commissioner of Veterans' Affairs must now consult with the proper examining board prior to issuing a waiver for a veteran. The waiver that the commissioner issues is now only good for a 2 year period. Lastly for this section, the substitute language elaborates further that this does not impact the authority of the Commissioner of Consumer Protection. Section 5 – Has a 2 year limit until the ability to waive the training required for a security officer license expires in where the equivalent military training has been provided for such a position. Sections 6 – Clearly defines a veteran as any veteran discharged under conditions others than dishonorable. Substitute language also now adds that the Board of Regents for Higher Education and the Board of Trustees for UConn, alongside other private institutions of higher learning, develop guidelines for awarding college level credits for military training. In the meantime, the substitute language requires that all public and private colleges use the American Council on Education course recommendations and those of other approved institutions and organizations (by these Boards) until the appropriate guidelines have been firmly established. Section 7 – Shifts the delegation to the Connecticut Department of Labor from the Department of Veterans' Affairs. The new language also defines here that a veteran is any veteran who was discharged under conditions other than dishonorable. Lastly, the portion dealing with the commissioner ensuring that state agencies provide temporary occupational licenses to military spouses has been removed entirely. ***

Raised Bill:

The bill streamlines the process for converting military skill sets into applicable civilian jobs as recommended by the Military Occupational Specialty Task Force. This bill deals with the different state agencies, educational institutions, and licensing boards and their approach to recognizing and accepting experiences and training of veterans. Essentially, the bill is geared towards utilizing the skills and knowledge veterans learned while serving as they apply for jobs in the civilian workforce. Depending on the particular training and experience, a veteran may receive college level credits that would limit the veteran from having to take unnecessary courses again at a civilian college for the sake of procedure. Also, this bill provides the Commissioner of Veterans' Affairs the authority to issue waivers for obtaining licenses to veterans who demonstrate knowledge, experience, and training in the occupation they are pursuing.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

Jane A. Ciarleglio, Executive Director, Connecticut Office of Higher Education:

Made note that there are already procedures in place to recognize training and experience towards college credits. Ms. Ciarleglio testified that the Connecticut Office of Higher Education looks forward to improving efforts to streamline the transition process for veterans to higher education.

Linda S. Schwartz, Commissioner, Connecticut Department of Veterans' Affairs:

Expressed appreciation for the bill's intention to assist veterans finding jobs utilizing their experiences and training from their military service. However, Commissioner Schwartz went on to testify that the Department of Veterans' Affairs does not have the necessary staff or resources in place to make this an actuality. She went on to state that many of these systems for assisting veterans qualifying for licensing and certifications are already in place at the Connecticut Department of Labor.

Melody A. Currey, Commissioner, Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV):

Commissioner Currey's testimony states that the DMV already offers veterans a number of exemptions such as free driver license renewals. Also, there was expressed opposition to the bill for mandating examination waivers for veterans and that the final decision should be solely for the DMV commissioner on how to proceed. Further, the commissioner went on to say that the DMV already has a program in place called the “Helmets to Hardhats”, that offers a skill test waiver for veterans seeking to receive a CDL license. Finally, the commissioner pointed out that the DMV cannot issue waive a CDL written test because federal law does not permit it under any situation.

Terrence Brennan, Director, Connecticut Department of Labor (CDOL):

Supports the concepts in the bill and believes in general that it will assist veterans in using their skills and experiences from their armed service to civilian jobs they are applying for. A few concerns were raised from the CDOL and were properly addressed in the substituted language of the bill. One such concern was that the CDOL be given the lead role in the implementation of the bill as the CDOL already has an Office of Veterans' Workforce Development.

Nancy Pugliese, Bureau Chief, Bureau of Standards and Certification, Connecticut State Department of Education:

Testified that there are already procedures, statutes, and regulations regarding offering certifications and licenses to those who qualify within the state. Ms. Pugliese testified in regards to subsection 5 of section 7 of the bill and noted that the agency does not offer temporary nor automatic licenses or certificates without following their set procedures. Ms. Pugliese stated that she looks forward to working with the committee towards a substantive solution.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Aaron Jones, Veterans Outreach Coordinator, South Park Inn Emergency Shelter:

Supports the bill as it facilitates veterans to find sufficient jobs and removes potential barriers leading to employment.

D. Wayne Robinson, Chief Executive Officer, Student Veterans of America

Supports bill that utilizes veterans' experiences from the armed services to civilian life in a smooth transition. Mr. Robinson testified that as of February 21, 2014, at least 20 other states have passed similar legislation.

Dawn A. McDaniel, Executive Vice President, Connecticut Veterans Chamber of Commerce:

Testified on behalf of the bill as it seeks to improve the lives of veterans as they transition into the private sector by already utilizing their experience and training from their service. Ms. McDaniel expressed support of the bill as it leads to making an additional step towards helping remove barriers for veterans entering the civilian workforce.

Debbi Newton, Legislative Chair, National Guard Association of Connecticut:

Is in favor of the bill as it reduces the redundancy associated with veterans wanting to transfer their training and experiences in applying for civilian jobs.

Emma Kaufman, Student, Yale Law School Veterans Legal Services Clinic:

Supports the bill and its counterpart, S.B. 212, and the steps it takes to assist veterans as they transfer their military experience to civilian life. Also, Ms. Kaufman suggested several amendments to the bills and the substitution language met those concerns from the original raised bill.

Joe Aresimowicz, House Majority Leader, State Representative of the 30th District:

Supports the bill and the efforts it strives to meet by providing veterans returning from service the ability to transfer their skills and training in while applying for civilian jobs.

Kimberly Glassman, Director, Foundation for Fair Contracting of Connecticut, Inc.:

Was initially against the bill because it allowed for the commissioner to ensure that state agencies provide temporary occupational licenses to military spouses without any prerequisites. However, with the substitute language, this matter was removed from the bill entirely in section 7.

Margaret Middleton, Executive Director, Connecticut Veterans Legal Center:

Spoke highly of the bill and what it would do for the veterans of Connecticut. Ms. Middleton stated that the bill would give proper credit to veterans for their training and experience to state agencies looking at their applications. Special note was made by Ms. Middleton to the state of Maryland and how the White House has recognized them as being a national leader on military credentialing.

Rosendo Garza Jr., Major, United States Marine Reserve:

Appreciates the generosity of the state and all it does for the veterans but urges the state to do more if it can help it. Mr. Garza noted that the unemployment rate for veterans throughout is around 10%. Additionally, Mr. Garza also made note of another unemployment statistic referencing that veterans aged 18 to 24 have an unemployment rate of 20.5%.

Sean W. Daly, President, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers:

Backs the bill but asks that there'd be a waiver for the examination fee itself. However, Mr. Daly stated that he would like for veterans to take the actual exam and not have the commissioner waive it entirely and skip the process. Mr. Daly also expressed concern whether legislation was even necessary to begin with as many of the appropriate boards already deal with these issues on a case by case basis.

Steve McKeever, First Vice President, American Federation of Teachers Connecticut:

Backs most of the bill's intent but cautions the language in section 5 regarding the ability of the commissioner to issue waivers when it deals with temporary teaching certificates. Specifically, Mr. McKeever asks that waivers would not be issued to veterans unless they appropriately demonstrate they meet the necessary requirements in general education, sufficient content knowledge in their subject endorsement area, and child psychology that any other applicant would have to undertake. Aside from this, Mr. McKeever and the organization he represents support the bill.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

Chris Bowman, White-Bowman Plumbing & Heating, Inc.

Testified that all veterans should be required to take the necessary training classes and exams and was opposed to the bill overall.

Connecticut Alarm & Systems Integrators Association

Opposes the bill as it seeks to give temporary certifications to veterans when they should only obtain them through the proper examinations if they meet the necessary experience requirements.

Jack Cawley, President, Connecticut Association of Plumbing, Heating & Cooling Contractors:

Does not want veterans to obtain a license without first taking a proper examination. Mr. Cawley values veteran experiences but would like for all applicants to meet all requirements for classroom and field training in a specific civilian environment.

Reported by: Stephen Sanabria

Date: March 21, 2014