State lawmakers discussed two bills that would benefit military spouses on March 9.
Sen. Rita Sanders of Bellevue introduced LB 389 at the request of Gov. Pete Ricketts. LB 389 would create more accessibility to jobs for military spouses with teacher certifications.
“Teacher certification is designed to be long term; however, military spouses are only often in one place for only two or three years,” Sanders said.
The bill would require the State Board of Education to expedite applications to ensure spouses of active-duty members would be able to teach as soon as possible.
The bill would grant a preliminary permit while the individual waits for their application to be processed. The preliminary permit would only be distributed after the application fee is paid and a successful background check is completed.
In Nebraska, the bill would allow military spouses to receive at least a three-year teaching permit.
Sanders said the Department of Defense found nearly 70% of married service members say their spouse’s ability to maintain a career has a moderate to large impact on their decision to stay in the military.
“This bill is an important step forward to ensuring spouses that are teachers to have the ability to do that quickly and with minimal burden as possible,” Sanders said.
Sen. Lynne Walz of Fremont supports the bill and said it will help with the shortage of teachers in Nebraska.
“It is good for schools, and it is good for military families,” she said. “As we all know, we do have a shortage of teachers here in Nebraska and over the past year, we have seen even more of a decline of teachers and substitute teachers due to the pandemic.”
Sanders said the bill would help schools find more qualified teaching candidates in the future.
The bill advanced on a 46-0 vote.
Sen. Carol Blood of Bellevue introduced LB 14, similar to the bill Sanders introduced. LB 14 would increase the access to audiology and speech language pathology services and help military spouses who relocate frequently.
The bill would create an interstate compact, which is an agreement used to adopt a certain standard or rule between more than two states.
Under the bill, individuals licensed in a state as part of the interstate compact would be allowed to practice without having to get a separate license. Currently, licensing requirements don’t transfer state to state for audiologists and speech language pathologists.
“When it comes to licensure, navigating the various states licensing requirements, regulations, rules and fee structure can be very challenging, especially to our military spouses who move approximately every two years from base to base,” Blood said.
In order for the compact to happen, 10 states are required to join. Blood said that Wyoming, Utah, Oklahoma, Louisiana, North Carolina and West Virginia have already put the interstate compact into effect, 13 other states are considering bills similar to LB 14.
Sen. Dave Murman of Glenvil supports the bill. He said Nebraska has a shortage of healthcare professionals and this is a tool to increase the state’s health care workforce.
“There’s no downside to these compacts,” Blood said.
The bill advanced in a 43-0 vote.