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Military spouses could get temporary licenses

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- It may soon be easier for military spouses to get jobs when they move to West Virginia.

A commission co-chaired by West Virginia first lady Joanne Jaeger Tomblin recommended Tuesday that state boards offer temporary licenses to military spouses who move to West Virginia and are licensed to work in another state.

Tomblin said that 35 percent of military spouses nationwide have jobs -- like teachers, nurses and accountants -- that require licensing.

The governor's Commission on Military Spousal Licensure recommended that state licensing boards give six-month licenses to military spouses, provided they have a valid license elsewhere, apply for a permanent West Virginia license and prove that they live or are stationed in West Virginia.

The changes would enable military spouses to start working in West Virginia within a month of applying for a license, the first lady said.

The commission also recommended that licensing boards waive application fees if a military spouse has paid a fee in another state within six months.

"It is our duty to do everything within our power to ensure that military spouses are supported in every way possible, Joanne Tomblin said. "Although they must still go through the normal process to obtain a permanent license, this potential solution would help them get to work faster so that they may earn a living with their families."

The commission, which was created in April, was also co-chaired by Amy Hoyer, the wife of Maj. Gen. James Hoyer, adjutant general of the West Virginia National Guard.

The commission recommended that each individual licensing board be allowed to conduct background checks and be given the authority to customize the process for their field.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said that some licensing boards could change their rules independently, but some boards would require legislative changes. He said that he intends to propose legislation during this spring's session to make the required changes.

"When you get transferred in the military you've got to pick up your family and be gone," Tomblin said. "Basically the whole thing is just to make it easier, to speed up the process."

Asked if the changes would also apply to same-sex spouses, Tomblin shrugged and said, "Whatever the military recognizes."

In October, West Virginia was one of nine states chided by the U.S. Department of Defense for not issuing military IDs to same-sex military spouses at all state ID issuing locations. All of those states have since made changes and are in compliance with DOD regulations.

When the U.S. Supreme Court struck down major portions of the Defense of Marriage Act in June, the DOD ordered that federal benefits be given to same-sex spouses of military members.

West Virginia law bans same-sex marriage and does not recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

Reach David Gutman at david.gutman@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5119.

 


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