Blackburn, Lee & Colleagues Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Help Military Families

April 14, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) introduced the Military Spouse Licensing Relief Act, bipartisan legislation that would give military spouses with valid professional licenses in one state reciprocity in the state where their spouse is currently serving on military orders. 

The bill is co-sponsored by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wy.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Roger Wicker (R-Miss), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), and Jim Risch (R-Idaho). Rep. Mike Garcia (R-Calif.) has introduced companion legislation in the House.

“The United States Armed Forces are not just made up of brave men and women in uniform but also the families at home who make their service possible,” said Sen. Blackburn. “For spouses frequently moving across state lines, keeping up with state-level professional licensing regulations can be a near-impossible task. The Military Spouse Licensing Relief Act is an essential piece of bipartisan legislation to remove bureaucratic red tape and support our nation’s heroes.” 

“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,” said Sen. Lee. “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.” 

“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. Garcia. “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. I am grateful to Senator Mike Lee for joining me in this effort to remove this burdensome obstacle that many military families face and help ensure our military families have the support that they deserve.”

“Montana military spouses make great sacrifices for our nation,” said Sen. Daines. “Many Montana families move often and it’s difficult for spouses that have occupational licenses to continue their careers after each move to a new state. We must cut this red tape that puts undue burdens on our military families who serve our country selflessly.”

“In Wyoming, we recognize the sacrifice that our service members and their families make every day,” said Sen. Barrasso. “Military families often move every two to three years. The last thing they need to worry about is spending time and money trying to maintain their careers in a new state. Our bipartisan bill will make it easier for military spouses to transition the professional licenses they’ve already worked hard to obtain when they move to a new duty station.”

"Military spouses serve our country every day, and they deserve career opportunities wherever their families are stationed," said Sen. Tillis. "I have always been an advocate for our servicemembers and their families, and this bill helps military spouses carry professional licensure wherever the country may need them."

“Sacrifice is common for service members and their families, but we should act to ease those burdens where we can,” Sen. Hyde-Smith said. “This legislation would alleviate the costs and time associated with unnecessary state-to-state relicensing requirements and, ultimately, help military spouses to fulfill their career goals.  This policy would be a win for military families and local businesses looking for qualified workers.”

“A servicemember’s oath to protect and defend our nation impacts their families as well, and military spouses often have to spend hundreds of dollars obtaining new professional licenses every time their spouse receives orders to move to a new state,” said Sen. Moran. “This legislation would ensure military spouses with professional licenses are able to utilize their credentials in each new state their spouse is stationed without going through the costly and time-consuming process of obtaining a new license.”

“Half of military spouses work in a field requiring licensing,” said Senator Cramer. “Our bill would make it easier for them to keep their jobs when they and their families are transferred to a different state. It is a common sense way to improve their livelihood and attract more talent to bases across the country.”

 “Our military families make significant sacrifices in service to our nation, including relocating often due to new military orders,” said Sen. Hoeven. “This legislation would help ease the transition to a new state by making it easier for a military spouse with a professional license to continue working. This is an important way to show our support for the families of those who are serving our nation.”

In order to receive reciprocity, a license must be in good standing; and the spouse must still comply with the state’s standards of practice, discipline, and fulfillment of any continuing education requirements. As a state function, protected under the Tenth Amendment, the bill does not preempt the states’ rightful authority to set their own licensing standards.

The full bill text can be found here.