South Carolina – Ahead of the License Curve

Military and military spouse employment career fair

President Joe Biden rang in the new year by signing a series of new legislative actions, many of which affected military servicemembers and military families. One of the more high-profile signings is a provision to make professional licenses more easily transferrable by military spouses – a concept that has been the topic of discussion at both federal and state levels for over a decade. The new law is named the Military Spouse licensing Relief Act and is part of the larger Veterans Auto and Education Improvement Act of 2022. It requires states to provide reciprocity in accepting military servicemember and military spouse occupational licenses from other states and jurisdictions. Under the new law, realtors, cosmetologists, and a wide variety of other professional will be able to transfer or register their licenses quicker and cheaper when relocating to another state by military order. Overall, it is a welcome initiative that will help military spouses can get back to their careers with little hassle after a move.

However, from a South Carolina perspective, this law is a little late to the party. In May of 2020, Governor Henry McMaster signed the Armed Service Members and Spouses Professional and Occupational Licensing Act which largely removed barriers to spouse and servicemember licensure portability in the majority of licensed professions in South Carolina. The act not only mandated that South Carolina state agencies will issue temporary licenses to those military servicemembers and spouses who could prove good standing in another state but also requires state agencies to issue full accredited licenses to servicemembers and spouses within 15 days of their application as long as their credentials in other states are “substantially equivalent”. This makes South Carolina one of about half of states in the country to mandate military licensure recognition and only four other states have a 15-day or less requirement for recognition of licenses.

Professional licensure portability may look like a somewhat dry and boring topic of conversation around the standard dinner table, but easing transfers of licenses is the kind of benefit that really makes a difference for servicemembers and their families. This year defense officials calculated that more than 39% of active-duty military spouses participating in the workforce required some sort of state-level license. For many these spouses, every move or change of station involves wading through various shades of red tape and paying significant fees in order to transfer their license. With the time to execute that transfer between some states being measured in months, the process is a real stressor on military households who frequently are only given around ninety days to prepare for a move.

The Federal government’s work on military licensure portability is to be commended. But the passage of this new law should also highlight how the Palmetto State is consistently ahead of the times in providing quality living and livelihoods to its military population. In this topic and every other aspect of veteran and military support, South Carolina will continue to give servicemembers and their families the tools they need to succeed.

Picture: Gov McMaster Celebrates Military Spouse Appreciation Month with the SC National Guard
Gov McMaster Celebrates Military Spouse Appreciation Month with the SC National Guard
Picture: Military and military spouse employment career fair
Military and military spouse employment career fair

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The Military Enhancement Committee (MEC) of Beaufort County Support Fund is a charitable fund administered by the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry. Its mission is to enhance the quality and value of the military installations of Beaufort County, namely, Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, Naval Air Station Beaufort, and Beaufort Naval Hospital. The MEC seeks to defend these installations against any threats like closure or natural disaster, while also positioning them for enhancement through personnel, resources, and other opportunities that both benefit the Department of Defense and our region.