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New law will allow Utah to recognize professional licenses from out-of-state military spouses

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Military spouses with certain professional certificates will soon have an easier time finding work in Utah.

Senate Bill 227 expanded the out-of-state professional certificates Utah will recognize for military spouses. A previous bill created license reciprocity for professional certificates issued by Utah’s Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing, but didn’t cover careers like education.

“I was surprised at how difficult it was with both a California and a Virginia current credential to make that transfer,” Kim Lopez said.

Lopez has 20 years of teaching experience. She has been married to her husband, an airman stationed at Hill Air Force Base, for 17 years. Military life means lots of moving.

“We have moved nine times in 17 years,” Lopez said.

Lopez said getting re-certified as a teacher in each state is not always simple.

“It was super time-consuming. I had a 12-step process, over $700 worth of testing to get all of my certifications here in Utah,” she said.

In August, Lopez participated in a White House discussion about the lives of military spouses. She also talked with Utah lawmakers about the issue.

“Nobody knew there was a problem. Nobody knew that the out of state licensure process was really closing the doors to many military spouses even taking the plunge to apply for licenses,” Lopez said.

Lawmakers, she said, were receptive to the idea of license reciprocity for military spouses. A bill sponsored by Senator Todd Weiler and Representative Brian M. Greene passed in the 2018 legislative session.

Lopez knows her time in Utah will be temporary. They will likely move on to another base one day, but she is glad she had a role in permanent change here.

“I think that is the best thing I could do. It’s a little bit of legacy left behind and it makes me happy that I could marry the two worlds, my education world and my military world, and do something good for the community at the same time,” Lopez said.

The new law will take effect May 8.

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