Bipartisan bill rescues military families from red tape

Updated: May 7



A bipartisan group of senators is trying to make it easier for military spouses to find work when their family is moved to a new duty station in another state.

Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and more than 20 other senators introduced the Military Spouse Licensing Relief Act in April. Under their legislation, a military spouse with a professional license in one state would be recognized as a valid license holder in their new state.

“Faced with a 50-state patchwork of licensing laws, military spouses are forced to spend thousands of dollars and hours to obtain licensure every time they move to a new state under military orders,” Lee said. “This bill will help lift that unjust burden on our military families – who sacrifice so much to protect our nation – by ensuring that spouses can receive the licensing reciprocity they need across state lines.”

Some states have agreed to interstate compacts under which some professional licenses in one state are recognized by others. But not all states have agreed to these compacts, and not all licensed professions are covered.

Lee’s office told AUSN that the goal of the Military Spouse Licensing Relief Act is not to override those interstate compacts, but to fill in the gaps these state-by-state agreements haven’t addressed.

Military spouses continue to experience a higher-than-average unemployment rate of more than 30 percent, and the need to spend time and money on a professional license after a move is a contributing factor.

“Military families have enough things to worry about, they should not have to also worry about getting a new professional license every time their spouse receives new orders,” said Rep. Mike Garcia (R-CA), who introduced a version of the bill in the House. “As a former U.S. Navy fighter pilot, I understand the burden military families carry when they have to move locations.”

“Our men and women in uniform and their families sacrifice so much for this nation and they deserve all the support they can get,” he said.

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