Sainato: House unanimously passes bill to make professional licensing process more veteran-friendly

Would add more veterans to licensing boards, among other measures

HARRISBURG, Nov. 10 – With Veterans Day approaching, a newly passed bill promises to give Pennsylvania’s military men and women an easier path back to the civilian workforce by making the professional licensing process more veteran-friendly, according to the bill’s co-prime sponsor, state Rep. Chris Sainato, D-Lawrence.

Sainato, who is Democratic chairman of the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, said he introduced H.B. 1868 – which passed the House unanimously today – with state Rep. Jake Wheatley, D-Allegheny; Zach Mako, R-Lehigh/Northampton; and several other lawmakers to address problems veterans commonly face when applying for professional licenses.

"Men and women in the Armed Forces put their lives on hold to serve our nation, but many face a tough transition to civilian life, particularly when returning to the workforce,” Sainato said. “One problem is that professional licensing board members don’t always fully understand how military skills and experience translate to civilian license requirements. Our bill would fix that by adding more veterans to boards, mandating use of specific guidelines, and implementing other measures to make the process more veteran-friendly."

“As a veteran, I know the challenges people face when they leave the service and rejoin civilian life. That transition isn’t always easy, which is why I want to thank my fellow legislators for passing this bill which will remove barriers to employment for veterans,” said Wheatley, who is Democratic chairman of the House Professional Licensure Committee. “This was truly a bipartisan effort, and now it is up to the state Senate to move this bill to the governor for his signature. I also want to thank the executive directors of the Professional Licensure Committee, Marlene Wilson, Esq., for her drafting and coordination, and Nicole Sidle, for her cooperation.”

The lawmakers said the bill would provide for:

  • more veterans and military spouses on licensing boards and commissions.
  • expedited application review for veterans and military spouses and initial licensure fee waivers for military spouses relocating to Pennsylvania.
  • consideration of military experience when making qualification determinations.
  • use of specific guidelines to help translate military experience into civilian licensure requirements.
  • early submission for licensure renewals for military being deployed to allow them to immediately return to employment upon return.

The bill now heads to the state Senate, where Sainato said he expects continued bipartisan support.

“The military men and women who return to our communities ready to offer their skills and experience deserve the smoothest, most user-friendly licensing process we can offer,” Sainato said. “With today’s House passage of our bill, we’re one step closer to that.”

Other prime sponsors of the bill include state Reps. Karen Boback, R-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Wyoming, and Dave Hickernell, R-Lancaster/Dauphin.

The House also unanimously approved a resolution sponsored by Sainato and Boback designating Nov. 11, 2021, as Veterans Day in Pennsylvania.