Under current federal law, states can only issue a CDL to a legal resident of the state issuing the CDL. This causes problems with military personnel trying to get their CDL before they get out of the military because they are often stationed in locations other than in their home state. Both the Departments of Transportation and Defense have recognized this portion of the current law as a barrier to veteran employment.
In an attempt to rectify the situation, Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-IN) introduced bills, titled the Military Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) Act of 2012 (bills S. 3624 and H.R. 6456 respectively) that, if signed into law, would permit a state to issue a CDL to a military member who operates or will operate a commercial motor vehicle, but may not necessarily be a resident of that state due to his/her temporary or permanent duty station being located in that state. To qualify, the military member must be a member of the active duty of the Armed Forces, which includes the Reserves of the Armed Forces, National Guard, U.S. Coast Guard, or Coast Guard Auxiliary.
During the last week of September, the Senate passed their version of this bill. In a statement posted on Congressman Bucshon’s website from the American Trucking Association (ATA), Senior Vice President Mary B. Phillips said “American Trucking Associations (ATA) supports passage of S.3624, the Military Commercial Driver’s License Act of 2012, which will be considered by the House on Friday. As Americans we must do everything possible to ease veterans’ transitions from active duty to civilian life, including helping veterans find meaningful employment. Many veterans already have the necessary skills to become professional drivers, and ATA supports legislation that will make it easier, without compromising safety, for these heroes to obtain their CDL.”
On Monday, October 1st, the U.S. House of Representatives passed its version of the Military CDL Act and it is expected President Barack Obama will sign it into law no later than Oct. 10.
Ms. Phillips went on to say “If enacted, the bill will create an exception allowing states to test and issue commercial driver’s licenses to service members who are domiciled in another state. Veterans need jobs, and the trucking industry needs drivers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected the trucking industry will need 233,000 net new truck and tractor-trailer drivers over the ten-year period from 2008-2018.”
If signed by the President into law, military members eligible for either the Montgomery GI Bill or the Post 9/11 GI Bill, may use their GI Bill to apply for reimbursement up to a maximum of $2,000 for CDL and endorsement test expenses.