New DOD report puts Ohio in the middle for professional license portability

Ohio doesn’t especially stand out in a just-released U.S. Department of Defense assessment of how well states educate children of military families and how well states welcome professionally licensed military spouses as they try to find employment after a move.

The report, titled “Support of Military Families 2021,” grades states by colors. “Green” states are seen as “highly supportive of military families,” while “yellow” states are “moderately supportive,” with red states regarded as “least supportive.”

School districts were judged on student-to-teacher ratios, graduation rates and other criteria. States were measured also on how well they eliminate barriers to license portability for military spouses.

In terms of professional licensure portability, only eight states and Washington, D.C. were graded green. Two states were red, and 41, including Ohio, received a “yellow” ranking.

The nearest green state to Ohio is Michigan.

Ohio appears to fall in the middle of the pack in most categories, despite recent efforts to make the state more friendly to military families and retirees.

The ranking matters to Pentagon decision-makers. If a state embraces military families, the Department of Defense notices. And if the DOD notices, then so do defense-sector employers.

Making the Buckeye State more welcoming to military families and retirees has long been a priority for state leaders. Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, with north of 30,000 military and civilian employees, is the state’s largest employer at one location.

In a virtual signing ceremony in June 2020, Gov. Mike DeWine signed House Bill 16, a bill said to benefit Wright-Patterson families who move into Ohio but don’t automatically qualify for lower in-state college tuition reserved for longtime state residents.

The governor also signed Ohio Senate Bill 7 in a January 2020 visit to the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. That bill requires state occupational licensing agencies to issue temporary licenses or certificates to uniformed service members and spouses who are validly licensed in another jurisdiction and have moved to Ohio for military duty.

Another change of note: Retirement pay received for service on military active duty or the National Guard or Reserves, as well as pay received by surviving spouses, has been exempt from the Ohio income tax since 2008.

Licensure portability

Ohio received an overall yellow rating for licensure portability, indicating state statutes “contain barriers to licensure and certification portability for military spouses,” the report says. It seems the department was concerned about the temporary nature of the licenses; it says: “This assessment was awarded for issuing of temporary licenses.”

Ohio also provides temporary licensure with no supervisory requirements for the law profession, the report noted.

The report’s authors were also wary of Ohio statute language.

Said the report: “Barriers remain for all occupations as they include language that state boards ‘may’ issue a temporary license (for) certification to military spouses rather than ‘shall’ issue.”

And the report points to barriers for “other occupations” as current statutes do not exclude any other occupations from licensure portability burdens.

State Sen. Niraj Antani, R-Miami Twp., said there’s a case to be made that Senate Bill 7, the state’s licensure portability bill, might have been stronger.

“I was disappointed that we do not have a stronger law to help military families, and I am looking into this,” Antani said Wednesday.

The DOD report says it relied on “publicly available, reputable third-party sources” for its data.

Education data is from the Department of Education Civil Rights Data Collection and EDFacts, and Stanford Education Data Archive, the DOD said.

The report and summaries can be found at:

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