Governor Pat Quinn was joined today by First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama as he signed the Illinois Military Family Licensing Act to support military families as they seek employment. The new law will help servicemembers and their spouses obtain the professional licenses they need to continue working after the family relocates to Illinois for military service. Today's action is the latest Governor Quinn has taken in his long history of supporting military members and their families in Illinois.
"Our military families make great sacrifices every day, and they shouldn't have to put their career on hold while their loved ones are serving their country overseas," Governor Quinn said. "This new law will strengthen Illinois and allow these dedicated professionals to waste no time in finding work and making a difference as they settle into their new home."
Illinois will become the 23rd state to adopt pro-military spouse license portability legislation. As part of her Joining Forces initiative to honor, recognize and support military families, First Lady Michelle Obama has advocated for the 100,000 military spouses who serve in professions that require state licenses or certification, and have to bear high financial burdens to transfer their credentials from state to state as they serve this country. In February, the First Lady and Dr. Jill Biden asked Governor Quinn and the rest of the country's governors and spouses to improve job portability for military spouses in their states. At the time the First Lady and Dr. Biden addressed the Governors, only 11 states had legislation. That number has since grown to 23-including Illinois- and an additional 7 states have pending legislation.
"Because of Governor Quinn's efforts, more military spouses will be able to advance in their careers. More businesses, hospitals and schools will get the talented, experienced workers they rely on. And more families will have the income they need and the financial security they deserve. And above all, military families will know that America has their back, we are working hard every day to serve them as well as they have served this country," said First Lady Michelle Obama.
Senate Bill 275, sponsored by Illinois State Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) and State Representative Bob Pritchard (R-Hinckley), provides for temporary expedited professional and educational licenses for active duty members of the military and their spouses. State agencies that issue occupational licenses, including the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation and the State Board of Education, will be able to grant temporary licenses to military members and spouses who hold credentials in other states in more than 50 professions, such as teachers, doctors, nurses, dentists, plumbers, paramedics, social workers, dieticians and therapists.
"When the White House told me about this issue, I immediately vowed to work with their staff to pass this important measure," Sen. Cullerton said. "This new law will ease the burden placed on military families who want to serve their country even more through noble professions in the fields of education, child care services and public health."
"SB275 will reduce the time needed for service members and their spouses to obtain a professional license so they can continue to work and supplement the family income, while still assuring the skills of the licensee and public safety," Rep. Pritchard said. "I look forward to continuing to address key quality of life issues for our servicemembers and their families in Illinois."
In addition to temporary, 6-month licenses, the Act allows IDFPR to consider all relevant experience and training a servicemember has gained through military service towards meeting certain permanent state licensing requirements. These provisions will help military members and their spouses more easily navigate the patchwork of non-uniform regulations across all 50 states. The law takes effect Jan. 1.
Illinois is the home to three major military bases -- Naval Station Great Lakes, the Navy's single-site "bootcamp" for training new recruits; Scott Air Force Base, the headquarters for the U.S. Transportation Command, and Rock Island Arsenal, a major weapons manufacturing facility in the U.S.
"This new law is powerful for the more than 16,000 military families who call Illinois home," IDVA Director Erica Borggren said. "Military spouses make tremendous sacrifices to follow their loved ones from duty station to duty station -- and temporary, expedited licensure is an important way our State can support them through those sacrifices."
"This is a win-win for Illinois. Military families benefit from increased portability of their professional credentials, and Illinois consumers benefit from increased access to qualified professionals," said DFPR Secretary Brent Adams.
Governor Quinn has long made commitment to veterans, servicemembers and their families one of his top priorities throughout his career in public service. He has led programs including the Illinois Warrior Assistance Program and the Veterans Cash lottery ticket, which has awarded more than $10 million to non-profit organizations across the state that provide health care and post-traumatic stress disorder treatment, housing assistance, disability benefits and other services to Illinois Veterans.
As Lieutenant Governor, Governor Quinn championed the Illinois Military Family Relief Fund Act, which established a fund to provide grants to families of Illinois National Guard members and Illinois residents serving in the U.S. Armed Forces Reserve components who were called to active duty as a result of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. These grants help service members and their families with the costs of food, housing, utilities, medical services and other expenses they struggle to afford because a wage-earner has temporarily left civilian employment to be placed on active military duty.
In 2011, Governor Quinn launched the Welcome Home Heroes program to promote homeownership for Illinois Veterans, active military personnel, reservists and Illinois National Guard members. The financing package is available statewide, and provides a forgivable grant up to $10,000 toward the purchase of a new home, as well as an additional mortgage tax credit up to $20,000 over the life of the loan. Welcome Home Heroes will make homeownership even more affordable for thousands of military families and create more than 400 jobs throughout Illinois.
For more information about programs for our Veterans, visit Veterans.Illinois.Gov or call the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs at 217-782-6641 or 312-814-2460.