Governor Announces Bill and Executive Order to Promote Employment of Veterans

03/17/2016 10:08 AM EDT
For Immediate Release: Thursday, March 17, 2016 Contact: Adrienne Bennett, Press Secretary, 207-287-2531

AUGUSTA – Governor Paul R. LePage has issued an Executive Order and has submitted a Governor’s bill to the legislature, both designed to promote the licensure and hiring of veterans in Maine.

“Veterans have made sacrifices to protect the freedoms that we too often take for granted,” said Governor LePage. “The least we can do for them when they return to civilian life is ease their transition by helping them on the path to a good-paying career. I am proud the State of Maine is a leading employer of men and women who have served this country in uniform, and I believe we can do even more to hire qualified veterans and help them obtain licensure based on their military experience to put those skills to work in the State of Maine.”

The Governor’s bill, “An Act To Reform the Veteran Preference in State Hiring and Retention,” refines the State’s existing approach to hiring preference for veterans, incorporating lessons recently learned from the successful 2015 Hire-A-Vet initiative at the Maine Department of Labor. The State of Maine was the first employer to commit to the program, ultimately hiring 32 veterans during the campaign-more than 12 percent of the total 261 hired through Hire-A-Vet-and found that current law providing hiring preference to veterans was insufficient.

Sponsored by Rep. Sheldon Hanington (R-Lincoln), a member of the legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee, the Governor’s bill provides preference by guaranteeing an interview to any person who has served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces, including the Reserves and the National Guard. The veteran must meet the minimum qualifications established for a position and must not have received a dishonorable discharge.

Complementing the bill, the Governor’s Executive Order tasks the director of the Bureau of Human Resources with developing a policy in which any veteran who applies for a job with the State of Maine, but is ultimately not hired for that job, receives guidance on other State of Maine openings for which the veteran may be qualified to apply.

“Having an opportunity for an interview and a referral to additional openings is a best practice in the hiring of veterans,” said Joyce Oreskovich, Director of the Bureau of Human Resources. “The guaranteed interview for qualified veterans provides not only an incentive to apply, which assists the State in its recruitment efforts, but also gives veterans meaningful opportunities to discuss their military background as it applies to the competencies we need for particular jobs. The referral, if the veteran did not get the initial job, aids in identifying transferrable skills and helps the veteran consider other positions, including those for which the veteran might not have initially applied or not realized he or she was not qualified.”

“The Executive Order will bring all of agencies involved in job training and professional certification and licensure together with veterans’ agencies,” said Governor LePage. “This group will review those legal requirements and relevant procedures to ensure that all of the transferrable skills of veterans are given appropriate credit in the licensure process and that licensure can occur as quickly as possible.”

“An Order To Promote the Hiring of Skilled Veterans in the State of Maine,” Executive Order number 2016-02, will convene a working group to review the current laws as they pertain to veterans obtaining licensure based on their skills acquired during their service.

“Since the law was updated in 2013, the Office of Professional and Occupation Regulation has been doing more than ever before to apply military training and experience toward civilian licensing requirements in Maine,” said Anne Head, Commissioner of the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation, who will chair the Governor’s Veterans’ Licensing Review Panel created by the Order. “Now is the time to look closely at the progress we have made and the additional barriers we can remove to get Maine’s veterans licensed and working in fields related to their service experience.”

In addition to Commissioner Head, the panel will include the Adjutant General; the Director of the Bureau of Veterans Services; representatives from the Secretary of State, Department of Labor, the University of Maine and Community College System; and two members representing licensing boards. They will consider the processes by which licensing boards are reviewing the applications of veterans with demonstrable field experience, as well as identify licensing boards’ rules, practices and procedures that are unduly and unnecessarily burdensome. By Feb. 1, 2017, the panel will issue a report to the Governor identifying problems and proposing solutions.

“This is a welcome opportunity to collaborate with stakeholders across state government and industry to reinvigorate our efforts to put our veterans to work here in Maine,” said Adria Horn, Director of the Bureau of Veterans Services. “We often hear from veterans looking for help removing red tape or navigating the system, and this panel will identify real solutions, recognize veterans’ military experience and enhance efforts to place veterans in well-paying jobs.”

The text of the Executive Order is:

2016-002 March 17, 2016

An Order To Promote The Hiring Of Skilled Veterans In The State Of Maine

WHEREAS, veterans have gained valuable trade skills in the course of serving in the armed forces of the United State of America;

WHEREAS, in order to ensure that people who work in certain trades are competent, the State of Maine mandates that people who work in certain trades obtain the appropriate licensure;

WHEREAS, it would benefit veterans and the State of Maine to have a process whereby veterans who have gained skills can obtain the appropriate licensure;

WHEREAS, such a process is underway and it is necessary to examine the progress of that effort;

WHEREAS, the State of Maine is an employer that is interested in employing more veterans who are qualified to perform the work of the State;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Paul R. LePage, Governor of the State of Maine, hereby order as follows:

1. The Governor’s Veterans’ Licensing Review Panel is hereby established;

2. The membership of the Review Panel shall consist of nine (9) persons appointed by the Governor including:

a. The Commissioner of the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation, who shall serve as chair;

b. The Adjutant General or the General’s designee from the Maine Army or Air National Guard;

c. The Director of the Bureau of Veterans Services or the Director’s designee;

d. The Director of the Bureau of Human Resources or the Director’s designee;

e. A member representing the Department of Labor;

f. A member representing the Office of the Secretary of State;

g. A member representing the Community College system;

h. A member representing the University of Maine system;

i. A member who serves on a licensing board in a medically-related field or a staff member designated by one such board; and

j. A member who serves on one of the other licensing boards or a staff member designated by one such board;

All Review Panel members shall serve at the pleasure of the Governor and all members shall serve without compensation. Members of the Review Panel who are listed from (a) to (e) above shall provide support from members of their respective departments as needed;

3. The Review Panel shall:

a. conduct a review of the processes by which licensing boards are reviewing the applications of veterans who have subject matter expertise in their given fields;

b. identify rules, practices, and procedures that may be used by licensing boards that are unduly and unnecessarily burdensome;

c. issue a report to the Governor on or before February 1, 2017, which shall include the results of its review in each of the above-listed areas as well as recommendations for improvement in laws, rules, practices, and/or procedures identified as causing or contributing to the problems identified. If the Review Panel requires more time in which to finalize the report, then the members may have no more than a two (2) month extension in which to complete it;

4. Pursuant to Title 1, section 402, subsection 2, paragraph F, the meetings of this Review Panel are not “public proceedings” subject to Maine’s Freedom of Access Act; and

5. Further, the Director of the Bureau of Human resources is directed to develop a policy by which any veteran who applies for a job with the State of Maine, self- identifies as a veteran or service member during the application process, and is ultimately not hired for that job receives guidance on other State of Maine openings for which that the veteran may be qualified to apply. The effective date of this Executive order is March 17, 2016.

Paul R. LePage Governor

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