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Veteran truck driver bill awaits Gov. Corbett signature

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A bill that loosens requirements for a commercial driver's license for those who are experienced truck-driving military personnel and veterans is awaiting a signature from Gov. Tom Corbett.

Senate Bill 277 would allow a CDL written skills test waiver for any veteran or active-duty military personnel who can demonstrate they were employed driving heavy trucks for at least two years within the last five years of their CDL application.

The law originally required that military personnel and veterans operated a vehicle similar to commercial trucks for two years immediately prior to their CDL application in order to get a waiver.

The state House and Senate both passed the bill unanimously.

Corbett intends to sign the bill today, said Jay Pagni, a spokesman for the governor.

The Virginia-based American Trucking Associations estimates the trucking industry has a workforce shortage equal to about 96,000 drivers annually, which could balloon to 240,000 by 2022 if freight continues to expand.

In early October, ATA said driver turnover for the second quarter was 99 percent at truckload carriers. High turnover increases costs for companies as they try to attract and retain drivers, according to ATA.

The national unemployment rate for all veterans was 6.5 percent in September, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The rate has been on a steady decline since 2010, according to the U.S. Department for Veterans Affairs.

Although unemployment among post-9/11 veterans also is dropping, the rate has been much higher — 10.1 percent — than all veterans and more erratic in its changes over the years, according to the VA.

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