NJ Assembly approves bills to help unemployed veterans
TRENTON — New Jersey lawmakers want to help out-of-work veterans find employment in the Garden State, in a variety of ways.
During Thursday's voting session, members of the state Assembly approved four bills that specifically aid the former military.
One of the measures would grant veterans or active-duty service members professional licenses or certificates for trades in which their military training, education or experience is equivalent to the requirements of the state license or certificate.
Another bill would waive the skill test requirement to obtain a commercial driver's license for veterans who have military experience in operating commercial motor vehicles.
The waiver would not apply for applicants seeking a CDL to drive a school bus or commercial bus that transports more than 16 passengers.
Lawmakers said the intent of both measures was to give veterans credit for their service and training.
"The on-the-job training our soldiers received while serving in the military should count when seeking employment," Assemblyman Herb Conaway, D-7th of Delanco, said Thursday. "The head work and sacrifice of our soldiers should be rewarded when they return home. Cutting a little red tape based on valuable experience is plain good sense."
Conaway, an Air Force veteran, was a sponsor of the CDL waiver bill.
Both bills were approved by the state Senate last month and head to Gov. Chris Christie's desk for consideration.
The third bill approved by the Assembly directs the New Jersey Board of Nursing to encourage nursing schools in the state to award former Army medics or Navy corpsmen who enroll in school credit toward nursing degrees.
"What many men and women who valiantly served their country and fellow soldiers as corpsmen and medics experienced on the battlefield cannot be taught in the classroom," said Assemblywoman Alison Littell McHose, R-24th of Franklin, the bill's sponsor, on Thursday in a statement. "Their training and hands-on service make them ideal candidates for nursing school following their discharge. Such training and service is deserving of academic credit as they continue their education in a civilian setting."
The bill was unanimously approved by the Assembly, but a companion measure in the Senate is still pending before its Commerce Committee.
The fourth veterans jobs measure directs the New Jersey Turnpike Authority to create an 18-month pilot program to help veterans find employment in the construction industry.
During the pilot, the authority would be required to award a minimum of 5 percent of its highway construction work to contractors registered with the national Helmets to Hardhats program, which connects National Guard, reservists and former active-duty military members with training and employment opportunities in the construction industry.
The bill requires the authority to evaluate the pilot program to determine how many veterans worked on highway projects and what, if any, impact the program had on the cost of projects.
The bill incorporates recommendations made by Christie, who conditionally vetoed an earlier version of the bill in January. The revised bill was approved by the Senate and returns to the governor's desk for consideration.
According to the New Jersey Department of Labor, there were 189,000 veterans over age 20 in the workforce last year. Among them, 19,000 were unemployed, giving veterans a 10 percent jobless rate compared with 8.8 percent for non-veterans over 20.
Nationally, veterans had an unemployment rate of 7 percent compared with 7.5 percent for non-veterans, the Labor Department reported.
David Levinsky: 609-871-8154; email: dlevinsky@phillyBurbs.com; Twitter: @davidlevinskyhttp://www.phillyburbs.com/news/local/burlington_county_times_news/nj-assembly-approves-bills-to-help-unemployed-veterans/article_f5f4927f-0976-5d4b-b838-b4e47b99f648.html
Maryland Senate passes veteran jobs bill
ANNAPOLIS -- Military veterans would get academic credit for skills learned during their service under a bill passed by the Maryland state Senate on Friday.
The bill, an initiative of Gov. Martin O'Malley, creates a process to credit veterans for skills learned and years served, and then apply those credits toward professional licenses or academic degrees.
There are more than 33 different professions licensed by the state, including barbers, pilots, electricians, nurses, social workers and paramedics.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, unemployment among veterans who served after 9/11 was at 9.9 percent in 2012, compared to the unemployment rate of 7.9 percent for the rest of the labor force.
That number is higher among young male veterans, 29.1 percent of whom were unemployed in 2011, compared with 17.9 percent of nonveteran young men.
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