New Laws Help Soldiers Start New Careers

CHEYENNE -- A pair of recently passed bills are expected to help military members and their spouses find work in Wyoming.

Lawmakers approved a proposal last month that requires state professional boards to take into account a service member's military training and education when they are applying for licenses.

Sen. Bill Landen, R-Casper, who sponsored Senate File 130, said it will help qualified residents gain employment or transition to the private sector once their active duty service is completed.

He said the bill follows a national initiative spearheaded by the White House to request state and private companies do more to improve the employment rate for those in or leaving the Armed Forces.

"What this bill does is to try to encourage our boards here in the state to do all they can to recognize the experience and relevant education that a military member receives during their service," he said during the Senate floor debate on the bill.

"It doesn't do anything to lower the bar for those license boards. It doesn't do anything but encourage those boards to do everything they can for our military."

The bill would not apply to attorneys or any profession that prescribes drugs.

Legislators also passed a companion bill during the recently completed session that permits licensing boards to ease their regulations for the spouses of military members.

Senate File 74 lets boards approve temporary permits for military spouses if they met similar or stricter requirements when living outside of the state.

Rep. Dave Zwonitzer, R-Cheyenne, said it also would allow the boards to waive requirements that an applicant has to live in the state for a specific amount of time before their license can be approved.

Rep. Lynn Hutchings, R-Cheyenne, who is retired from the Air Force, said constant moves can take a toll on a military family.

"The spouse has to travel one place to another with no friends, and they have to start from the beginning with each place they are sent," she said. "So this gives them a bit of a beginning leg up when they travel with their spouse."

The bill earned the support of National Military Family Association.

"The lack of broad-based reciprocity among the states to recognize professional licenses or certificates creates a significant barrier to employment," wrote the group's chairwoman, Mary Scott, in a letter to lawmakers.

"With each government-ordered move, military spouses incur high costs for recertification and delays before they are able to work.

"Your consideration of a temporary permit will allow military spouses to become employed quickly, financially benefiting the family and the state of Wyoming."

Both bills passed with overwhelming majorities. They are waiting final consideration by Gov. Matt Mead.

If approved, the laws would take effect July 1.

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