Governor Reeves signs Commercial Drivers License Bill

The National Guard Association of Mississippi is proud to work with Department of Public Safety, Mississippi National Guard, Mississippi Trucking Association, and Mississippi Veterans Affairs to create more opportunities for our Service members.

Earlier this year Lieutenant Colonel Lawrence Austin, a member of the Mississippi National Guard and Life Member of the National Guard Association, reached out with the original proposal he was crafting with Representative Karl Oliver that would ultimately become HB 1486.

“Enabling the proactive steps taken by our members on behalf of their fellow Service members is one of the reasons the National Guard Association exists” stated retired Colonel Billy Murphy, current President of the Association. “Further, this legislation would not exist without the direct involvement of Department of Public Safety, Mississippi National Guard, Mississippi Trucking Association, and Mississippi Veterans Affairs.”

Mississippi’s Commercial Driver’s license qualification standards are found in Miss. Code §63-1-208. Those standards include certain testing requirements. House Bill 1486 amends those standards adding limited waivers to some of its testing. These waivers are limited in application to Service members who received training during their military career. It leverages the military training received by certain current and former Service members to reduce the time to license and costs incurred.

The guidance for establishing the qualifications standards for commercial driver’s license, also known as a CDL, are found in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s regulations. States are required to follow these regulations when enacting their qualifications standards for issuance of CDL’s. Within these regulations, the FMCSA established certain waivers to testing which recognize the value of the training received by Service members serving in certain military positions or occupational specialties.

The FMCSA compared the training received by Service members to similar civilian training and determined the military training to be equivalent to, and in some cases better than the civilian training.

House Bill 1486 incorporates into Mississippi’s qualification standards the testing waivers allowed by the FMCSA regulations. This includes the knowledge test, passenger endorsement test, tank vehicle endorsement test, and hazardous materials endorsement test. The bill received unanimous support in the House and Senate.

These waivers will provide Mississippi’s Service members better access to civilian careers in the transportation industry.  They also serve as an incentive to Service members stationed in Mississippi to remain and become a part of Mississippi’s transportation industry. This legislation would not be available without the organizations and departments listed above along with the support of the legislature as well as the direct involvement and support of Governor Reeves. Colonel Murphy concluded “We applaud our Mississippi Legislature and Governor Reeves on their constant support of our Mississippi National Guard.”

The Department of Public Safety will be adopting rules and regulations necessary to implement these test waivers as soon as practical after July 1, 2022, but no later than July 1, 2023.  More updates will be provided as the rules and regulations are implemented. Special thanks to Lieutenant Colonel Austin for providing the above cited information on the details of the new law.