Garcia bill seeks to aid military families

Congressman Mike Garcia, R-Santa Clarita, discusses the Military Spouse Licensing Relief Act in the House on Wednesday. Courtesy Youtube screenshot
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As part of an effort to make life for military families a little bit easier, Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Santa Clarita, announced Thursday his Military Spouse Licensing Relief Act passed Congress. 

The bill passed the House in September, and the text of the law was agreed to in the Senate on Tuesday by unanimous consent in an amendment to the Veterans Auto and Education Improvement Act of 2022. 

Garcia, who noted the significant difficulties facing the armed forces right now in terms of personnel, has been working on the bill since April 2021, with Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, introducing companion legislation in the Senate. 

“In the midst of one of the most challenging moments for our military in terms of recruitment and retention, what this bill does is it allows the spouse of active-duty members to effectively cross-deck their professional licenses, if they’re a Realtor, a doctor, a nurse, a teacher, a beautician, a cosmetologist, whatever their profession is, across state lines when they get orders from one state to the next,” Garcia said Wednesday during a hearing on the bill in the House of Representatives.  

The bill, should it be signed into law by President Joe Biden, would amend the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) of 2003 to require states to recognize service members’ spouses occupational license from another state, if the service member and the service member’s spouse move across state lines on account of a Permanent Change of Station order, according to a one-pager that summarizes the bill.  

SCRA already provides a number of protections for active-duty service members and their families, including rental agreements, civil judicial proceedings, installment contracts and credit card and mortgage interest rates.  

But Garcia notes the bill is an attempt to address a problem facing many military families: While the national unemployment rate is just below 4%, the rate for military spouses is 20%. The bill has the potential to impact a little over 34% of military spouses who have professional licenses. 

Currently in California, as in most states, “agencies shall issue expedited temporary licenses to military spouses licensed in good standing in another state. For some professions, the military spouse may be required to take a state-specific examination to receive the temporary license,” according to the Department of Labor website, which also notes the different rules that apply for each state.  

Garcia’s bill, which also mandates professionals to follow the rules and continuing education requirements of the new state they’re transferring to, is an effort to codify the language on these policies into federal law.  

“This is a win for our military families, this is a win for our nation’s security, but it’s also a win for local communities that are in desperate need of teachers, doctors and the professionals that they bring to the table — and by the way it’s a win for the government because we now enjoy the tax revenue from those dual-income families,” Garcia said. “And hopefully it translates into better recruitment and better retention for our military.” 

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