Also published in the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
Our nation’s veterans undergo rigorous training during military service that can be directly applied to jobs at home. After working hard and defending the freedoms we cherish, it is our duty to ensure that when these men and women come home, the return to civilian life is an easy one.
Government fees should be the last thing they worry about after serving their country. We can make headway toward this goal by reducing high occupational license fees for veterans.
In California, 43 regulatory boards oversee the licensing of certain occupations ranging from barbering to dentistry to acupuncture. In order to receive a license, individuals must pay fees to the board that regulates their profession.
This year, I authored Senate Bill 1155, also known as the Welcome Home Act. The bill would eliminate, for honorably discharged veterans, the initial fees required to obtain an occupational license in California.
Transitioning to a civilian job is not always immediate. Recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that young veterans between the ages of 18 and 24 face an unemployment rate of 13.0 percent. As citizens, we have a responsibility to foster growth opportunities for those who have given so much for our country.
By removing this part of the licensing process, we can reduce a barrier to workforce entry, harnessing the job skills learned in military service and increasing California’s skilled labor market. We can join Wisconsin, Texas, and Florida in making our great state more attractive for the 350,000 people who separate from military service each year. SB 1155 is a win.
Additionally, due to higher demand, if total veteran licensure increased by just four percent, the state could see an estimated growth of $7.4 million in economic activity because more veterans would be a part of the workforce.
According to a recent White House report, more than one-quarter of occupations in the U.S. require a license – a five-fold increase since the 1950s. With some licenses costing upwards of $500, these fees can cause undue burden when added to all of the costs associated with establishing oneself in the community – buying a car, finding housing, having a family– when the focus after getting back from overseas should be on starting a business or searching for the right job.
The Welcome Home Act is one way we can begin pulling California back from a fee-driven, government-growing mentality.
Thomas Jefferson once said, “the natural progression of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.” Licensing in the United States has certainly gone down that path.
Veterans devoted a part of their lives to our country and government. Therefore, any action we can take to remove red tape from their civilian pursuits deserves our unfettered attention.
Senator Mike Morrell, R-Rancho Cucamonga, represents the 23rd District in the State Senate which includes portions of Riverside, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles counties.
SB 1155 is currently pending consideration in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.