From left to right, State Rep. Jim Butler, State Rep. Rick Perales, State Sen. Bob Hackett and U.S. Rep. Mike Turner speak during a press conference on Tuesday about a bill introduced in the Statehouse this week. The bill would streamline the process for spouses of military members to transfer their professional licensure or certificates to Ohio.

Proposal would make it easier for military spouses to continue careers in Ohio

Servicemembers are frequently thanked for serving their country but “often forgotten,” said State Rep. Jim Butler, is the sacrifice their spouses make.

But, military spouses transferring to Ohio will soon find it easier to continue working in their chosen field if a proposed law introduced in the Statehouse this week becomes law. Military spouses look for a new job every one to three years and around 35 percent of them work in an occupation that requires some form of re-credentialing every time they move across state lines, according to White House data.

Ohio House Bill 716 would require any state or local agency to issue temporary licenses and certificates to members of the military and their spouses who are licensed in other states and have moved to Ohio for active duty assignments. There are around 1,300 Ohio military spouses that are employed in an occupation that requires some form of licensure or certification, Butler said.

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“If they have a license in good standing…in another state, it’s the least we can do for them for the sacrifice they make for our country,” said Butler, R-Oakwood.

Butler, a Navy veteran, is sponsoring the house bill along with state Rep. Rick Perales, R-Beavercreek. The legislation will also be introduced in the state senate by Kettering Republican Peggy Lehner, Repbulican Bob Hackett of London and Republican Bill Beagle of Tipp City.

The legislation is expected to pass through the Statehouse “with a breeze” Hackett said.

With around 3,600 active duty military families living in Ohio, the bill is needed “for Ohio to be a good place for them to land,” Perales said.

To qualify, military family members must present “adequate proof” that they have a license or certification that is current and “in good standing” in another state, according to the bill.

The agency in Ohio that issues the temporary certification will be required to conduct an annual verification that the recipient’s license in another state remains in good standing. A temporary certificate or licensure will cost one-third the rate of a full one in Ohio, the proposal states.

The licensure would last six years. The temporary status could be revoked six months after a person with it moves out of Ohio or six months after a someone divorces their spouse who is a member of the military, according to the bill.

“You wouldn’t believe some of the stories we’ve heard from military members and their spouses about what it takes to get licenses in another state,” Butler said.

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Ohio already has a law that allows state agencies — at their own discretion — to grant temporary licensures to military family members. The latest proposal will eliminate some of the bureaucracy and make the process “move much quicker,” Hackett said.

Nearly all 50 states have begun streamlining the licensing process for military families, according to the White House. Former first lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden in 2011 launched a campaign calling on states to ease the process of state licensing for the military community, according to the White House.

Recently, U.S. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson, approached area community leaders about implementing a licensure policy, said U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton. Turner then asked Butler and others to launch a state effort to ease the licensure transfer process.

While the new law will help military families stay together, it also makes Ohio more competitive with other states, Turner said.

“As we look to other states — we want to make sure that Dayton, Ohio and Ohio specifically — that they know that we are veteran friendly, we are servicemember friendly and that we are a place for the United States military to make investments,” Turner said.

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