January 27, 2020
By Heather Curry

Ohio has taken an important step forward to help military spouses get to work faster when they move into the state. Today, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed legislation to remove regulatory barriers to work for military spouses relocating to the Buckeye State. With the signing of this bill, Ohio has become the latest state to recognize occupational licenses from other states—an idea born at the Goldwater Institute and achieved broadly by way of first-in-the-nation legislation passed in 2019.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signs legislation breaking down barriers to work for military families. Source: The Buckeye Institute.

Speaking at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base today, Governor DeWine explained,  “Military service is a high calling that brings with it many benefits; however, frequent relocations can place a burden on military families—particularly on the spouses whose jobs require a license or certificate such as teachers, nurses, dental assistants, and home health aides. Military families are vital to our state and nation, and this new law will eliminate the red tape they encounter when relocating to Ohio and resuming their careers here.”

Senate Bill 7 directs Ohio’s licensing entities to recognize the out-of-state occupational licenses of military spouses, easing the transition for military families moving into the state. Rather than ask skilled professionals to jump through redundant regulatory hoops, Ohio will now honor the training and experience of military spouses in a variety of licensed fields. Championed by the Buckeye Institute, this commonsense reform passed with overwhelming bipartisan support and is the latest in a series of licensure reforms in Ohio.

Robert Alt, president and CEO of the Buckeye Institute, was present at the signing and commented, “The families of those who are serving our country should not be deprived of the right to earn a living by needless regulation. The Buckeye Institute is proud to have spearheaded this reform in Ohio and looks forward to working with other states and the federal government to streamline licensing for military spouses across the country.”

Ohio’s law recognizes that military families are particularly vulnerable to the harmful impacts of onerous licensing regulations. The average military family moves every two to three years, a reality which means many working spouses are required to re-license just as often. In many cases, the process to re-license in a new state is so costly and time-intensive that it disrupts careers permanently. Ohio’s new law addresses this issue by ensuring licensed professionals in good standing are able to apply for a license and be approved quickly. By honoring the time and effort already invested in an out-of-state license, this reform empowers military spouses to pursue their own version of the American Dream even as they support the important work of America’s service members. 

This session, Ohio’s legislators are moving quickly to extend this type of licensing recognition to all Ohioans. Recently, the Buckeye Institute, Institute for Justice, and the Goldwater Institute joined legislators in Ohio in calling for the adoption of universal recognition. Following the passage of landmark legislation in Arizona in 2019, Ohio legislators introduced House Bill 432 and Senate Bill 246. Both bills would recognize out-of-state licenses for those who apply to practice in their fields and are in good standing. Additionally, both offer a pathway to licensure through work experience or private certification. A recent policy brief from the Buckeye Institute offers an overview of licensing in Ohio and outlines state-specific reasons to adopt these reforms. 

“Ohio should not make it unnecessarily difficult for people to move to Ohio and to earn a living here. Full occupational licensing reciprocity, which is modeled on a Goldwater Institute-championed policy adopted in Arizona, will do just that,” said Alt.

In addition to Ohio, nine other states have introduced bills to recognize of out-of-state occupational licenses. From Alaska to New Hampshire, policymakers across the country are looking to break down barriers to work and welcome workers with open arms. 

Heather Curry is the Director of Strategic Engagement at the Goldwater Institute.

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