By Steve Metzer
The Journal Record
OKLAHOMA CITY – Legislation aimed at making it easier for active and retired military members and their spouses to go to work in Oklahoma could potentially add to the ranks of nurses and other occupational professionals in the state.
Senate Bill 670, called the Military Service Occupation, Education and Credentialing Act, would direct occupational licensing boards in Oklahoma to accept as valid licenses issued by other states to military members, veterans and their spouses. The bill earned a unanimous vote Wednesday to pass through the Government Efficiency Committee of the House of Representatives, clearing the way for a vote on the House floor. It had already earned passage through the Senate.
There are five military installations in Oklahoma: Tinker, Vance and Altus Air Force bases, Fort Sill Army post and the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant. An advisory commission established last year to study occupational licensing policies and processes in the state found that people associated with the installations were all too likely not to apply for licensing in Oklahoma, even if they’d previously been licensed in other states. The commission reported that potential applicants didn’t want to pay fees to go to work, especially if they expected to move away from Oklahoma in a year or two.
The bill would allow for military members anticipating a move to a base in Oklahoma to arrange in advance for their valid out-of-state nursing or other occupational license or certification to be recognized in Oklahoma. State agencies would then look at an applicant’s credentials “in the manner most favorable” to meeting Oklahoma’s qualifications. Additionally, credentialing authorities would waive application fees for “the first period of issuance” for a reciprocal license or certificate.
If the legislation passes in the House and is signed into law by Gov. Kevin Stitt, the act would go into effect on Nov. 1, 2019.
Christina Foss, who helped direct efforts of the Occupational Licensing Advisory Commission, said its goals are to make recommendations on how to reduce barriers for people who want to work while at the same time protecting the safety and other interests of Oklahomans. The commission so far has reviewed licensing processes for 28 of more than 400 occupations that require licenses in the state.