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Greenstein-Beach Measure To Allow Military Spouses To Receive Nursing Licenses Heads To Governor

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.

“More than 100,000 military spouses across the country hold professional licenses with tens of thousands being licensed nurses,” said Senator Greenstein, D-Middlesex and Mercer. “These men and women sacrifice every day as their husbands and wives serve our country both domestically and overseas. By breaking down barriers to employment, we can show our support for these families, provide them with a path to a good job as the move into New Jersey and bring more qualified nurses into our state’s hospitals, doctor’s offices and health care clinics.”

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.

“Our military men and women are courageously stepping up to protect our country, but they are not the only people making heroic sacrifices in defense of our nation. Their families and spouses must deal with the strain of repeated deployments and constant transfers to new states – for example in 2010, 24 percent of military wives relocated across state lines compared with only 2 percent of civilian wives. Lack of professional license portability can cause periods of unemployment and wage losses for these families,” said Senator Beach, D-Camden and chair of the Senate Military and Veterans Committee. “By providing qualified nurses and military spouses with temporary licenses, we can do something simple to lift a burden off of our military families.”

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 governor’s desk.

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