Legislation would help military spouses work
Heather Uphold of Brighton in Beaver County speaks to the media about the challenges faced by military spouses in the workplace Tuesday during a news conference.
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State Rep. Matt Smith is touting legislation that would speed some military spouses' entry to the Pennsylvania work force, saying it would complement a federal bill aimed at providing financial support to those facing licensure-related relocation expenses.
In July, Mr. Smith, D-Mt. Lebanon, introduced the Military Spouse License Portability Act, which would require Pennsylvania to temporarily recognize professional credentials awarded to military spouses in other states.
About 20 states already have similar laws on the books, Mr. Smith said, adding, "Without delay, Pennsylvania needs to join these other states." The bill has bipartisan support, he said.
In all, the state has about 30 boards licensing cosmetologists, nurses, other health-care professionals, architects, auctioneers, psychologists and social workers, among other professionals.
Mr. Smith's bill would require the boards to grant military spouses a provisional license so they can work while completing Pennsylvania's own certification requirements. To be eligible, spouses would have to hold a valid license in another state that has certification requirements "substantially equivalent" to Pennsylvania's.
Now, spouses in certain professions can't immediately work after service members are transferred to Pennsylvania bases, something that takes an emotional and financial toll.
"Every day, every month, matters to earning income for their families," Mr. Smith said in remarks Thursday at the Allegheny County Courthouse. On Tuesday, Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Casey used the courthouse as a backdrop for promoting a bill that would give military spouses a tax credit of up to $500 to cover professional licensing fees they encounter when moving from one state to another.
Appearing with Mr. Smith, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald called the state bill "a no-brainer. This really should be fast-tracked in the Legislature."
Emily Embers said she lost a year of her career as a social worker and a year's pay after the Marines moved her husband, Zachary, from the state of California to Johnstown about a year ago. She said it took her that long to take a licensing test, which cost her $300, and to meet other paperwork requirements.
"I'm very appreciative of this," she said of Mr. Smith's bill, which also would help military spouses eliminate gaps on the work experience section of their resumes.
First Published September 1, 2012 12:00 am