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Whitmer, state lawmakers aim to make professional licensing easier for Michigan military families

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer speaks during the adjutant general change of responsibility ceremony, Lansing, Mich., Jan. 1, 2019 (Air National Guard photo by 1st Lt. Andrew Layton/released).
November 12, 2020

Military personnel, veterans and their immediate family members with occupational licenses in other states could have an easier time getting approved to practice in Michigan under bipartisan legislation introduced Tuesday.

The legislation, introduced in both the House and Senate by Rep. Andrea Schroeder, R-Independence Township, Rep. Sarah Anthony, D-Lansing, Sen. John Bizon, R-Battle Creek, and Sen. Adam Hollier, D-Detroit, would make active-duty military personnel, veterans, their spouses and their children under the age of 26 eligible for license reciprocity in Michigan.

Under the bills, servicemembers and their families would 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 or relevant work experience, according to a press release announcing the legislation.

The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs would be tasked with determining whether a person meets the criteria. LARA Director Orlene Hawks said the department is committed to processing the applications from servicemembers and their families within 48 hours.

Veterans are currently eligible for initial fee waivers for many professional occupations — the bills would expand fee waivers to include dependents and active-duty military personnel and include health care professions under the umbrella of occupations eligible for fee waivers.

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During a press conference announcing the legislation ahead of Veterans Day, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer endorsed the plan, saying the bills would serve the dual purpose of helping people who’ve served and potentially expanding the talent pool for Michigan businesses looking to hire trained professionals.

“By reducing barriers to professional licensure, it will mean that veterans and service members and family members that have a professional license in a different state can become licensed here in Michigan without having to jump through a bunch of hoops,” she said.

Hollier, a member of the Army Reserves, said the legislation is especially critical for family members of active-duty military, who are moved around the country frequently and face major hurdles when trying to get their licenses up to speed in a new state.

“This is going to make Michigan a real leader in this, and it’s going to make sure that our servicemembers and their families are protected going forward — something that we haven’t done nearly a good enough job of doing,” he said.

Bizon, a licensed physician and Air Force veteran, said he’s hopeful expanding fee waivers and extending reciprocity in the medical profession will encourage more military families to move to Michigan and make it easier for them to continue their careers.

“We can always use more doctors, more nurses, more technicians,” he said. “This hopefully will attract people who are very well qualified, who have had years of experience doing these things, back here to our state.”

The legislation has to pass the House and Senate and be signed by Whitmer to become law.

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(c) 2020 MLive.com

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