The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Bill closes loophole on military license transfers


March 1, 2020

SANTA FE — James Burns spent months pushing for the New Mexico Legislature last year to pass a bill that would allow occupational licenses from one state to be accepted in New Mexico for incoming military spouses, only to see it die during the session.

When the then-chair of Committee of Fifty was told at a September military and veterans’ affairs committee meeting that legislation was on the books since 2013, he was admittedly at a loss for words.

Even though he’d just heard of the legislation, it clearly hadn’t been working as he was joined by a military spouse who was told to start a licensing process from scratch even though her Florida school counseling license was good until 2022.

Fixes and improvements were made official Wednesday as Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed House Bill 30 into law on Wednesday.

House Bill 30, approved unanimously by the Legislature, fast-tracks the transfer of professional and occupational licenses for service members, their families and recent veterans who relocate to New Mexico, according to a news release from the governor.

In addition, she said, it waives licensing fees for the first three years.

“Most military families move every two to three years, and some even more frequently. That makes it harder for a military spouse to build a career — or even find a job,” Lujan Grisham said. “I am committed to removing barriers for these dedicated servicemembers, veterans and their families wherever and whenever I can.”

Burns said House Bill 30 closes some loopholes that existed in House Bill 180 from the 2013 session, and that any state with a military installation should have similar legislation.

“I was ecstatic,” Burns said. “I was very upset last session it didn’t pass. It should have passed at that time.”

According to the news release:

• Military spouses face a 24 percent unemployment rate, even though 89 percent have some college credits, 30 percent have four-year bachelor’s degrees and 15 percent have graduate degrees.

n More than a third of military spouses work in occupations that require licenses, and the same survey found that after a move, more than half of them couldn’t get a new license for four months or longer.

• House Bill 30 gives state agencies from 30 to 60 days to issue a license to a military family member or recent veteran who can show he or she has a license that is current and in good standing from another jurisdiction and otherwise meets minimal licensing requirements.

• The legislation will bring an influx of qualified professionals into the New Mexico workforce in critical areas, such as education and nursing.

• House Bill 30 covers teachers, healthcare professionals, engineers, surveyors, mental health counselors, social workers, interior designers, real estate appraisers, barbers and tattoo artists.

“With this signing,” said Col. Robert Masaitis, 27th Special Operations Wing commander at Cannon Air Force Base, “New Mexico has provided accompanying spouses who have moved here, or will move here, a significantly greater opportunity to continue their profession and provide for their family.

“When our airmen and their families are properly supported, we are able to execute the mission even better and this signing supports just that.”

Burns said he didn’t realize Lujan Grisham was so adamant about passing the measure, or that she had tried to do a national version of the bill while serving in Congress. He noted some initial gripes the measure would cost the state in licensing fees, but said putting more people to work was a good tradeoff.

“This is an exciting step for our community in supporting our military families,” Burns told the Clovis/Curry County Chamber of Commerce in a news release. “Service members have such a difficult life moving from base to base, and as a nation we need to make it as convenient and comfortable as possible. We’re thrilled that this change will simplify that process for some of them.”


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