A bill making its way through the Ohio House would make it easier for military spouses living in the state to obtain professional licenses, a policy championed by the conservative Buckeye Institute.
House Bill 133, sponsored by Rep. Rick Perales (R-Beavercreek), would grant full professional licenses to military spouses who hold a license from a different state, so long as the requirements of the other state are similar to or stricter than the requirements in Ohio. If the out-of-state license doesn’t meet Ohio’s standards, then spouses would qualify for a temporary license in Ohio.
While testifying Wednesday in support of the bill, The Buckeye Institute research fellow Greg Lawson told the story of Brianna McKinnon, who was a certified teacher living in Washington state before her husband was stationed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
“When Brianna and her husband got settled in Ohio, she learned that the state makes it very difficult for military spouses to get an Ohio job license so they can quickly begin working in their chosen professions,” Lawson said. “To get an Ohio teaching certificate Brianna would have to take numerous college courses, take a number of exams and she would have had to pay for a background check and the license itself. As a mom with two young kids and on a military salary this was all too much—not to mention unnecessary.”
Lawson also pointed out that “73 percent of military spouses with an occupational license require renewal or reissuance of their license after being transferred to a new state.”
That’s why in its 2016 policy brief titled “Increasing Job Opportunities for Military Families,” The Buckeye Institute recommended many similar proposals outlined in House Bill 133.
Lawson, however, did take issue with the bill’s proposal to grant temporary licenses in cases when the requirements of the licensing state aren’t as strict as Ohio’s. He said this would put Ohio far behind “other states that offer full reciprocity rather than merely temporary licenses,” like Arizona, Texas, and Florida.
“Occupational licensing requirements only make the road to employment and economic recovery more treacherous. Every license requirement raises a red-taped hurdle for workers to clear before earning a living or starting a new career. Every hour of unpaid training needed to satisfy bureaucratic requirements is an hour not spent earning tips, impressing a boss, serving a customer, or opening a business,” Lawson concluded his testimony. “Those are hours of productivity, hours of opportunity that young, low-income workers sorely need, but that the state continues to deny them.”
Perales also sponsored a bill that would grant military spouses and dependents in-state tuition levels at all public institutions in the state. The legislation, House Bill 16, passed the Ohio House May 1 in a vote of 96-0.
“We all recognize the tremendous sacrifices service members and their families make for citizens of the United States. Without a place to permanently call home, it is hard to justify limiting a dependent’s college choices to the state in which his or her parent or guardian was last stationed,” Perales said after the bill passed. “House Bill 16 is a small step Ohio can take to show our military members and their families that we support them and that we appreciate their service to our country.”
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News, The Ohio Star, and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo “Military Family” by Joint Base Charleston.