By Eric Bradner
A measure that helps members of the military get licenses to drive long-haul trucks is set to become the first full bill sponsored by freshman Republican U.S. Rep. Larry Bucshon to become law.
It's an effort to eliminate bureaucratic roadblocks for returning and stateside military personnel by allowing states to issue commercial driver's licenses to service members who are there at the time, rather than requiring those members to apply in their home states.
Those who are covered under what's officially dubbed the "Military Commercial Driver's License Act of 2012" include active duty military personnel, military reserves, members of the National Guard, active duty Coast Guard and Coast Guard Auxiliary members.
Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, introduced the bill in her chamber and Bucshon sponsored an identical companion in the House. The Senate approved the measure two weeks ago and the House gave its unanimous OK on Friday.
"Currently, many veterans are unable to use military qualifications when applying to civilian jobs," Bucshon said in a statement.
"Our servicemen and -women have one of the highest unemployment rates in the country and trucking companies have one of the largest amount of job openings in our workforce. This common-sense, bipartisan bill will help our military servicemen and women find good jobs in Indiana and will help move more commerce across our nation."
The measure won broad backing from the trucking industry, which is seeking to shore up a shortage of commercial drivers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has estimated the number of long-haul trucking jobs that exist nationwide will grow by 300,000 between 2010 and 2020.
The expectation is that companies would hire military personnel who receive their training in states where their duty stations are located, rather than their home states.
The measure Bucshon sponsored would allow active-duty military personnel to obtain those licenses in the state where they are serving or where they got their training, in addition to their legal residence.
"Our military has the best training anywhere, yet they could not easily transfer that training in civilian life," said Shepard Dunn, president of Best Way Express Inc.
"Now with the support of Washington, senseless red-tape barriers can be torn down so our military can put that training to work right here in America. That's a win-win for everybody."
Bucshon is facing Democratic former state Rep. Dave Crooks and Libertarian Bart Gadau in Indiana's 8th District U.S. House race.