For Ohio to remain a military hub, it needs to become friendlier to family members of those serving in the armed forces and a bill that has already been approved by one chamber of the Statehouse aims to do just that.
House Bill 133 would require state occupational licensing agencies to issue temporary licenses or certificates to members of the military and their spouses who are licensed in another state and have moved to Ohio for active duty. The bill recently passed the house in a vote of 97 to 0 and now moves on to the state senate for consideration.
Issues pertaining to “quality of life” are driving more decisions by the military when selecting which bases will receive new missions and jobs, Rachel Castle, director of defense programs for the Dayton Development Coalition told an Ohio House committee.
“The military has made it very clear that it will use its leverage as a local economic driver to improve the family-friendly laws and regulations that affect its service members,” Castle said. “In other words, in order for Ohio to remain competitive with other states to gain new military jobs, we need to enact legislation that supports military spouses and families.”
The Dayton region is already home to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, which is the largest single-site employer in Ohio with about 29,300 civilian employees and military personnel.
The base has an estimated economic impact of more than $15.54 billion. Ohio is also home to more than 864,000 veterans, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
“More and more, Department of Defense mission locating decisions are being influenced by state laws benefiting military members and families…Ohio has an opportunity to stand out as a military friendly state and have a leg up over states without reciprocity,” State Rep. Rick Perales told his house colleagues. “As the DoD makes these difficult basing decisions, we as a legislature should ensure that Ohio leads in every category for potential mission and base expansion opportunities.”
If it becomes law, the proposal would ease the burden military families often face when they move to Ohio, said Perales. Both Perales and State Rep. Casey Weinstein, D-Hudson, are sponsors of the bill.
With around 3,600 active duty military families living in Ohio, the bill is needed “for Ohio to be a good place for them to land,” Perales said.
"By prohibiting military spouses from practicing the work they have already been licensed to do, Ohio is penalizing service members' families,” Weinstein said.
Ohio already has a law that allows state agencies — at their own discretion — to grant temporary licenses to military family members. Nearly all 50 states have begun streamlining the licensing process for military families, according to the White House.
Cassie Barlow, former installation commander of Wright-Patt’s 88th Air Base Wing, expressed her support for the bill. The proposal would make Ohio more military friendly, Barlow told state representatives.
Barlow was in the Air Force for 26 years and her career meant her family ended up moving 13 times, she said. Every time they moved, Barlow’s husband had to “start over with his career” as an attorney.
Barlow said she saw several other families struggle with figuring out what to do when they moved from state to state. Not only would the licensure proposal ease a burden on military families and make Ohio more attractive, but it would also allow spouses to start working sooner and contribute money to the local tax base, Barlow said.
“For every spouse that must earn a new state license, time in their field is lost and money is lost for each military family,” Barlow said. “This bill is critical for military members and their families being heartily welcomed into our state.”
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