NJ senator’s bill would let military spouses in licensed jobs keep working
TRENTON — A measure proposed last legislative session by former state Sen. Tom Kean Jr. is being reintroduced, with two main purposes: to allow spouses of military personnel to carry professional licenses and certifications over to New Jersey while stationed here, and to address the Garden State's "dramatic" employee shortages.
That's how the demand for workers in just about every field was described by one of the new bill's sponsors, Sen. Jean Stanfield, whose 8th District includes Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.
Sen. Nellie Pou, the other primary sponsor, also sponsored the previous version of the legislation.
Stanfield said her conversations with military spouses have made clear just how many have to put their careers on hold when they move, and how New Jersey might be able to help.
"They have a license in another state, they want to come here, and at the same time, we're experiencing our own shortages in teachers and nurses, and other professionals," she said. "It just seems to make perfect sense that we would make the process easier for them, make it more affordable, and make it last longer so that while they're here with their military spouse, they can work and serve our community."
Under the terms of the bill, the duration of courtesy certifications for these professionals would be extended, and state licensing and certification boards would be required to expedite the issuing of temporary licenses.
For nurses, the courtesy certificate would extend for the life of a license, and for teachers, the extension would be an additional four years beyond 180 teaching days, as long as the professional in question continues to reside at a military base in the Garden State.
Regarding the inclusion of teachers in the bill, Stanfield said her experience on the Senate Education Committee over the last two years, during the COVID-19 pandemic, put those shortages in sharp focus.
Speaking of education, the proposal also stipulates that any continuation of a licensee's education be maintained while they are in New Jersey.
"We make sure that the standards that they took their testing under are very similar to ours, so that we're not sacrificing quality for this convenience," Stanfield said.
Other licensed professionals such as architects and hairdressers would also be covered by the legislation, which Stanfield hopes can move through the State House as quickly as possible.
"First and foremost, we want to respect our military families," she said. "They sacrifice so much, and they shouldn't have to go through retesting and recertification every time that they're forced to move because of their service to our country."
Patrick Lavery is New Jersey 101.5's afternoon news anchor. Follow him on Twitter @plavery1015 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.