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Greenstein-Beach Measure To Allow Military Spouses To Receive Nursing Licenses Approved In Senate Health Committee

A view of the Senate Chambers from the 2010-2011 Senate Reorganization.

Legislation Would Promote First Lady’s Initiative to Ease License Transfer for Out of State Military Husbands and Wives

TRENTON – In response to First Lady Michelle Obama’s and Dr. Jill Biden’s call to increase professional license portability from one state to the next, legislation sponsored by Senators Linda R. Greenstein and Jim Beach that would provide nursing licenses to qualified nonresident military spouses was unanimously approved today by the Senate Health, Human Services and Seniors Citizens Committee.

“Military families provide a great service to our country. The husbands and wives of our active-duty military personnel often make great sacrifices in support of their military spouses. And because of military families’ high rates of moving from state-to-state – for example in 2010, 24 percent of military wives relocated across state lines compared with only 2 percent of civilian wives – military spouses often end up sacrificing their careers,” said Senator Greenstein, D- Middlesex and Mercer. “With this legislation, we can assist those spouses who are also nurses so that their transition into New Jersey is as seamless as possible.”

The bill, S-1906/A-2889, would direct the New Jersey Board of Nursing to establish criteria to issue one-year temporary nursing licenses – with the ability to extend the license for a second year – to practicing nurses who are the spouses of active-duty U.S. armed forces members and who are not New Jersey residents but have transferred to the state in the course of their spouse’s military service.

“The husbands and wives of our active-duty military personnel are already sacrificing so much for our country while dealing with the strain of deployments and transfers. Suffering through unemployment due to these frequent transfers and moves should not be yet another stress military families must endure,” said Senator Beach, D-Camden. “As a state, we can really do our part for these heroic families by providing qualified nurses with temporary licenses.”

The bill would allow a nonresident military spouse to receive a temporary nursing license if they are currently holding a nursing license in another state, US territory or the District of Columbia that the board determines has equivalent licensure requirements; were actively practicing as a nurse for at least two of the five preceding years; pay for and authorizes a criminal record background check; have not committed an act in another jurisdiction that would constitute grounds for denial, suspension, or revocation of a nursing license in New Jersey; have not been disciplined or under investigation for an unresolved complaint by a nursing licensing or credentialing entity in another jurisdiction; and are willing to pay a fee that the Board of Nursing deems appropriate.

According to the US Department of Defense, 26 percent of military spouses are unemployed and currently seeking work – which is more than three times the national unemployment rate. Additionally, one-third of all military spouses work in a field that requires state licensure with nursing being the third most common occupation for a military spouse – following teaching and childcare working.

Recently, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden have been promoting spousal license portability for military families. Currently 23 states have adopted legislation to support military spouse professional license portability.

The bill now heads to the Senate floor.

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