“Utah ranks among the top destinations for military families transitioning to a new duty station, a new report indicates.”
The 2018 passage of the Military Family Jobs Opportunity Act and the passage of Senate Bill 227 in the same year introduced licensing reciprocity to the state by enabling military spouses with professional licenses from other states to transfer their qualifications to a Utah license.
This is encouraging news and should be celebrated. However, it should not be taken for granted. If Utah wants to continue being a state that military families can easily move to and succeed in, it must keep exploring ways to improve its regulatory climate for such families. Unfortunately, the aforementioned legislative moves have largely excluded language that makes it easier for veterans, their dependents, or the dependents of military service members to circumvent restrictive and burdensome occupational licensing processes. This must change.
Alabama’s Approach: A Model for Utah
One state Utah can take inspiration from is Alabama. In Alabama, lawmakers have recently approved the expansion of occupational licensing reciprocity for military spouses and dependents. This follows a trend dating back to 2018 of the Alabama Legislature annual expanding occupational licensing reciprocity for the mentioned groups.
This year’s legislation, House Bill 246, enrolls Alabama in a national cosmetology compact for military personnel and dependents. This legislation will guarantee that military members and their dependents who work as hair stylists and cosmetologists can practice their occupation in any of the states that have signed the compact without having to obtain a new license or meet additional requirements.
As Alabama continues to make strides in becoming a military-friendly state, other states are taking note and considering similar changes to their laws. This progress is important as military spouses and dependents still often face challenges in finding employment when they move to a new state due to differences in licensing requirements and fees.
Changes to Consider Implementing
Utah, which is home to several military installations and nearly 4,000 active-duty military members, could benefit from similar changes to its licensing reciprocity laws. Beyond enacting the cosmetology compact, Utah has the opportunity to make even larger changes. Specifically, state lawmakers should consider implementing:
- Sweeping licensing reciprocity for military dependents
- Expediting license application reviews and discretionary, temporary licensure for the dependents of military and veteran members
- Exempting military dependents from licensing fees
- Providing continuing education extensions
Utah has obviously made progress in supporting military families. However, there is still room for improvement. Utah must work to help ease the transition for military families, ensure they have access to employment opportunities, and strengthen the state’s economy. By supporting military families, Utah can continue to be a top destination for military families.