If you’re a spouse whose job relies on a professional license, you probably know that even with state rules making it easier to transfer or just a little bit cheaper, the whole thing is still pretty stressful and expensive.
That’s why lawmakers are again trying to push a rule through Congress that would reimburse you for some of your professional licensing costs.
The bill, known as the “Life the Relocation Burden for Military Spouses Act,” would require the Defense Department to reimburse spouses up to $500 for licensing fees after a move.
It would also require the Defense Department to study ways to improve spouse employment rates. Now, you know that I often joke about all the studies Congress orders. You can pretty much bet that if Congress proposes something controversial, it will instead turn into absolutely no action with a nice study ordered on whatever it is instead. The commissary. Tricare. Housing. All of these are great examples of exactly that.
But this time I actually think the study is a good thing. It’s been a long time since any reliable new information was produced about spouse employment. Officials have instead been working off some old studies. The most recent one was produced by the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA)
The proposal is very similar to one that was offered in 2015 (and later died). That proposal sought to give the money through a tax rebate, which would require a change to tax code. This one, however, looks to give the money via your military paycheck through the DoD. That sounds like something that is more likely to actually happen. Anytime you talk about changing the tax code, well …
But will this bill actually get passed? Generally speaking, legislation that deals with military issues is added to the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) rather than passed as a stand-alone bill. The 2017 NDAA has already been voted on and is awaiting final negotiation between the House and the Senate, so that ship has sailed. That means the soonest we are likely to see any true movement on this issue is within the 2018 bill. That process will begin early next year.