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4/15/2013 6:00:00 AM
First time's the charm for Havasu lawmaker
Sonny Borrelli
Sonny Borrelli

Suzanne Adams-Ockrassa
Miner Staff Reporter

KINGMAN - Local Rep. Sonny Borrelli, R-Lake Havasu, accomplished something few legislators, let a lone a freshman, ever manage - pass a bill they campaigned on while getting near-unanimous support in both houses and the governor's signature on their first try.

"I'm just tickled," he said.

Borrelli introduced his very first bill, House Bill 2076, on Jan. 17.

The bill speeds up the state's commercial drivers' and practical nursing licensing process for military veterans.

Arizona recognizes nursing and commercial drivers' licenses from other states, but had no provision for recognizing the training that military veterans get while serving, Borrelli said.

A veteran who has driven trucks or served as a nurse in the military for the last five years would have to go through the same process as a person that just graduated from truck driving or nursing school, he said.

According to the Arizona Department of Transportation, in order to get a commercial drivers' license in Arizona, a person is has to take special driving classes, pass a written test, have a medical examination and pass a driving test. If they want to carry hazardous waste, they must also get a certification in handling hazardous materials.

To become a licensed practical nurse in Arizona, a person must have proof they graduated from an accredited nursing program, provide fingerprints and proof of U.S. citizenship, pass a background check and pass a nursing test provided by the Arizona Board of Nursing.

To Borrelli, a veteran, that was too much red tape for veterans to get a much-needed job.

"This is something I campaigned on," he said. "These were the top two hurdles identified by the Department of Defense to veterans wanting to get jobs."

In order to qualify for the military exemption for a commercial drivers' license, a person must be a veteran of the U.S. armed services, reserves or National Guard, they must have been honorably discharged from service within the last two years, have not had their license revoked or suspended, have not been convicted of moving traffic violation and driven a commercial vehicle while serving in the military.

In order to get a practical nursing license, a veteran has to prove they served in the military, reserves or National Guard, meet all the background check requirements of a civilian licensed practical nurse, received medical training through the military and practiced nursing for at least two of the last five years.

According to the legislative record, the bill unanimously passed two house committees and the House floor, with six legislators not voting, before moving on to the Arizona Senate where it unanimously passed three committees and the full senate before being passed on to Gov. Jan Brewer's Office. Brewer signed the bill into law on Thursday.

"They're finally getting the credit for the experience they have," Borrelli said. Now all a veteran has to do is pass a test to get their commercial license or become a practical nurse.

Borrelli credits the success of his bill to "the right homework." He said he spoke with representatives from the Arizona Department of Transportation and the Arizona State Board of Nursing, as well as legislators and veterans affairs specialists to make sure all of the training matched up.

"(The state agencies) were concerned about giving a blanket approval. They wanted to make sure the training was the same," he said.

After that, he took it to his fellow legislators. Many signed on as sponsors and cosponsors of the bill.

"It was just a meat and potatoes bill. That's what I want to do," Borrelli said. "You see a lot of ideological bills out there. I just wanted to cut through the red tape and streamline the process and that's what I did."

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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew

Ms Athens

“Any chance you could streamline obamacare? Hahaha! Or get rid of it altogether. Wishful thinking.”

Linda you are aware that Borelli is an Arizona State Representative, right?

And I am always fascinated about how voracious you are about doing with a program that would provide every American with the same type of medical care you currently take advantage of. Why is that?

And, yes kudos for Borelli , good job, and as said earlier Semper Fi!

Posted: Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Article comment by: Rick Shelby

Great job Sonny! Semper Fi!

Posted: Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Article comment by: mikel weisser

Sonny & I talkedx about this one. Whiel I disagree with many of his ideas, this is a good one and I am glad to see the support it is getting. Good will on this effort, Rep Borrelli!
mikel weisser

Posted: Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Article comment by: Stephanie Goodale

Good job sonny! Don't wast any time, just jump right in the & get the job done!!

Posted: Monday, April 15, 2013
Article comment by: William Short

I am a Canadian Veteran - can we borrow Mr. Borrelli? Please!

Posted: Monday, April 15, 2013
Article comment by: Jim Consolato

Good bill but it was his own pet passion and experience. I'd like to see such passion from Borelli on something not so politically correct but equally as important and coming from the people in general. A vote against our most deserving veterans in todays world is political suicide. I am glad it passed but don't be too quick to throw a parade for Borelli. He has only just begun and before it's over I bet he becomes undone. Look online at HB 2648 and watch the video of Borelli in action. It tells the story of how he had decided to vote one way on a bill, was speaking about it in the house and watching the huge voting board at the front of the room as he spoke. When he saw his decision was not popular, he changed his vote the other way so fast, some say he might have gotten a whip lash. This leads me to believe his convictions and decisions take a back seat to his career popularity.

Posted: Monday, April 15, 2013
Article comment by: Jimi Lightfoot

Good Job Sonny!

After 21 years as a medic, I retired and had to become a cook because all that military experiance wouldn't transfer over.

Thanks again Sonny.

Posted: Monday, April 15, 2013
Article comment by: Linda Athens

Congratulations Sonny Borelli:

Keep up the great work. We have so much farther to go but this is a great first step for our veterans.

Any chance you could streamline obamacare? Hahaha! Or get rid of it altogether. Wishful thinking.

Posted: Monday, April 15, 2013
Article comment by: Steven Robinson

This is precisely why we elect our Legislators... to provide for orderly society and get government bureaucracy out of the way of everyday life.

Good Job Sonny!

Posted: Monday, April 15, 2013
Article comment by: Al DiCicco

Nice work Sonny Borrelli. Keep it going!

Posted: Monday, April 15, 2013
Article comment by: Laurie Voss Barthlow

Outstanding, Sonny. Good work.

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