Assembly Panel Advances Bills To Help Military Spouses & Veterans

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TRENTON – An Assembly committee on Thursday advanced three separate measures to help veterans and military spouses who have moved to New Jersey as part of a military relocation secure work in nursing, teaching and emergency services.

The first bill (A-2889), sponsored by Assembly Democrats Herb Conaway, Jr., M.D., Cleopatra G. Tucker and Wayne DeAngelo, would grant a temporary nursing license to the qualified spouse of an active duty member of the Armed Forces who has been relocated to New Jersey.

“Relocating is part of military life, but can make steady employment difficult,” said Conaway (D-Burlington). “This bill is consistent with legislative efforts being made in other states to make it easier for qualified military spouses to maintain their professional nursing licenses and pursue nursing employment options as they move from one jurisdiction to another.”

“The nursing shortage in New Jersey is made more worrisome by an older population that’s living longer,” said Tucker (D-Essex), who chairs the Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “This bill provides an opportunity to add qualified personnel to New Jersey’s nursing workforce to help meet the anticipated increased demand for nursing services for this aging population.”

“The sacrifices made by our military men and women extend to their families,” said DeAngelo (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “If a military family has been relocated to New Jersey, then it is incumbent upon us, as benefactors of their selfless service, to make it as simple as possible for spouses who are qualified nurses to find work so they can help support their families.”

The bill directs the New Jersey Board of Nursing to establish criteria for the issuance of a temporary courtesy license to a nonresident military spouse to lawfully practice nursing in New Jersey on a temporary basis. A military spouse is entitled to receive a temporary license if he or she:

  • hold a current license to practice nursing in another jurisdiction;
  • was engaged in the active practice of nursing in another jurisdiction for at least two of the five years immediately preceding the date of application for the temporary courtesy license;
  • has not committed an act in another jurisdiction that would have constituted grounds for the denial, suspension, or revocation of a license to practice nursing in this state;
  • has not been disciplined, and is not the subject of an investigation of an unresolved complaint, or a review procedure or disciplinary proceeding, which was conducted by, or is pending before, a professional or occupational licensing or credentialing entity in another jurisdiction;
  • pays for, and authorizes the board to conduct, a criminal history record background check of that person;
  • pays such fee as the board reasonably requires for the issuance of the temporary courtesy license; and
  • complies with such other requirements as the board may reasonably determine necessary to effectuate the purposes of the bill.

Per the bill, a temporary courtesy license would be valid for a period of six months and could be extended at the discretion of the board for an additional six months upon request.

The second bill would allow nonresident military spouses with out-of-state teaching licenses who have been relocated to New Jersey to receive a temporary instructional certificate to teach in New Jersey.

The bill (A-2892) is sponsored by Assemblyman Patrick J. Diegnan, Jr., Assemblyman John J. Burzichelli, Assemblywoman Tucker and Assemblyman John S. Wisniewski.

“Military families make many sacrifices in service to our country, including frequent deployments and relocations,” said Diegnan (D-Middlesex). “Moving from state to state can be a disruptive barrier to a military spouse’s employment, particularly when his or her field requires a state-specific professional license. This bill helps make for a smoother transition to their new home.”

The bill would require the state Board of Education to establish a procedure for the issuance of temporary instructional certificates to nonresident military spouses that would authorize a board of education to employ that individual if (1) the military spouse holds a valid and current license or certificate to teach issued by another state for which there is an equivalent and currently-issued New Jersey grade level or subject endorsement; and (2) demonstrates competency in teaching by having taught successfully for at least two years or having completed continuing education units.

A temporary instructional certificate would be valid for 180 days and may be extended for another 180 days at the discretion of the State Board of Examiners. The temporary instructional certificate would allow the military spouse to be employed as a teacher on a temporary basis while completing any specific additional requirements for an instructional certificate in New Jersey that were not required in the state where the military spouse holds a license or certificate to teach.

“Teaching is one of the most common occupations among military spouses. But unlike other professions, it requires a license, which presents a challenge for military families that are constantly on the move,” said Burzichelli (D-Cumberland/Gloucester/Salem). “Providing a temporary license for qualified teachers who have relocated to New Jersey is the least we can do.”

“Most households depend on two incomes to run smoothly, yet military spouses face a tough time maintaining employment due to their frequent mobility,” said Tucker. “This bill allows military spouses with a valid out-of-state license to teach in New Jersey while completing any additional requirements for New Jersey teacher certification.”

“The unemployment rate for military spouses is 26 percent. That’s more than three times the national unemployment rate and it is unacceptable given the sacrifices they make,” said Wisniewski (D-Middlesex). “New Jersey can always use good and experienced teachers. If these individuals have the appropriate licenses and qualifications, then they should have the opportunity to teach in our schools.”

The third bill (A-2891) would require the New Jersey Commissioner of Health and Senior Services to certify emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and Mobile Intensive Care Paramedics with equivalent military training or experience in the Armed Forces or the National Guard, if that military training and experience exceed or are equivalent to New Jersey’s certification standards.

The bill (A-2891) is sponsored by Tucker, Conaway, Assemblyman Troy Singleton, DeAngelo and Assemblywoman Pamela R. Lampitt.

“Sadly, our veterans are returning home to fewer job opportunities despite their extensive training and experience,” said Tucker. “We must do more. Facilitating employment opportunities for veterans with skills equal or greater of those required of EMTs and paramedics is a good start.”

“Many of our veterans have a difficult time finding work because their military experience does not translate to the workplace,” said Conaway. “This bill extends an employment opportunity to veterans who have the skills that are necessary and required to work in emergency services.”

“The job of our military men and women is to protect and save lives. If they are not fit to work as emergency responders, I’m not sure who is,” said Singleton (D-Burlington). “The jobless rate for our veterans is dismal. Let’s help these soldiers by getting them work they are qualified for.”

“Many of our veterans have proved their skills on the battlefield. They should not be denied the opportunity to do the same in the workforce,” said DeAngelo. “This bill will help match veterans with work they are familiar with and, considering their training, are most likely qualified to do.”

“Adjusting to civilian life is difficult enough without having to worry about how you’re going to support your family,” said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). “If a veteran has the skills, then there is no reason why they should not be considered to don the uniform of our emergency personnel.”

The three bills were unanimously released by the Assembly Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

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