Connecticut: Legislation for Military Spouses To Get Licenses

GROTON,  CT (STL.News) Governor Ned Lamont today joined members of the military, their families, and military advocates for a bill signing ceremony in Groton to commemorate the enactment of a new state law making it easier for the spouses of active duty service members who have relocated to Connecticut as a result of their spouse’s military assignments – as well as any other individuals who are relocating to the state – to receive the state licenses and certifications necessary to obtain employment in certain healthcare professions and other types of trades.

The legislation was proposed by Governor Lamont earlier this year in response to a memo that was recently issued by the secretaries of the U.S. Navy, U.S. Army, and U.S. Air Force highlighting a growing national problem associated with the spouses of military members who frequently face barriers to employment as they relocate between states.  In their memo, the secretaries said this issue has become so severe that they’ve begun urging leadership at the Department of Defense to consider these problems when evaluating growth, reductions, and closures of military bases.

According to the Department of Defense, approximately 35% of military spouses in the labor force work in professions that require state licenses or certification.  In addition, military spouses are ten times more likely than their civilian counterparts to have moved across state lines over the last year.  Even before the pandemic, military spouses faced a 16% unemployment rate.

Governor Lamont said that because military families are often required to relocate several times throughout a military career, each state should be doing what they can to make reasonable accommodations necessary for military spouses to obtain employment, even if they may only be living in the state for a short duration.  This can be done, he said, by making licenses and certifications more portable between states, while still upholding high standards.

“By enacting this law, I want to send a message to service members and their families that Connecticut is a great place to be stationed, a great place to raise a family, a great place to work, and a great place to retire,” Governor Lamont said.  “Removing obstacles to spousal employment will enhance the experience and quality of life for military families in Connecticut, and it reinforces our message that military families are warmly welcomed and sincerely appreciated in our communities and workplaces.  In addition, this law also lets anyone else who is considering relocating to Connecticut and has a career in a licensed profession know that they will have a much easier experience transitioning their license to Connecticut, provided they can pass the tests Connecticut requires.  For the first time in a generation, tens of thousands of young families are moving to our state.  This law helps them contribute their skills to our communities.”

Under this new law, which takes effect on October 1, the Connecticut Department of Public Health and Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection will issue the appropriate license or credential to a state resident or the spouse of an active duty service member stationed in Connecticut if that person has practiced safely under another state’s license for at least four years, meets examination requirements as defined under state statutes, and completes the necessary background checks.  The agencies continue to have the discretion to deny a request if they find it to be in the state’s best interest.

For the Department of Public Health, this applies to all of the agency’s credentialed professions, including, but not limited to:

  • dentists;
  • emergency medical services personnel;
  • nurses;
  • physical therapists;
  • physicians;
  • sanitarians; and
  • veterinarians.

For the Department of Consumer Protections, this applies to:

  • accountants;
  • architects;
  • engineers and land surveyors;
  • home improvement contractors;
  • home inspectors;
  • new home contractors;
  • real estate brokers and salespersons;
  • real estate appraisers;
  • landscape architects;
  • interior designers;
  • swimming pool contractors;
  • community association managers;
  • public service gas technicians;
  • television, radio service dealers, and electronics technicians;
  • pharmacists;
  • pharmacy technicians;
  • pharmacy interns;
  • hypnotists;
  • homemaker-companion agencies; and
  • locksmiths.

In addition, the legislation requires the Department of Public Health to convene a working group that will examine whether Connecticut should join any interstate licensure compacts that will make this process even easier.  Connecticut is one of only eight states that has not joined any interstate licensure compact.  The department must report its recommendations by January 15, 2022.

The legislation also replaces an old-fashioned requirement that certain Department of Consumer Protection licensees possess “good moral character.”  Although Connecticut denies very few licenses on those grounds, national studies and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have found similarly vague requirements deter or delay a diverse community of applicants, including those with criminal records, who are qualified for licensure.

The legislation is Public Act 21-152, An Act Expanding Economic Opportunity in Occupations Licensed by the Departments of Public Health and Consumer Protection and Requiring a Report From Certain Executive Branch Agencies Regarding Background Checks and the Feasibility of Establishing Preclearance Assessments of Criminal History.