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Military Spouse Wins Lawsuit Against State of Texas Over Professional License Transfer

A military spouse in Texas brought a lawsuit against the state for refusing to accept her out-of-state school counseling license transfer as is now required under federal law. In late November 2023, that lawsuit ended with a ruling in favor of the spouse.

A federal judge has ruled that the State of Texas violated federal laws passed in early 2023, which amended the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act or SCRA, requiring states to accept military spouse professional license transfers as part of a permanent change of station move.

It’s a big win for military spouses. According to Military Times, no federal court “had interpreted the SCRA’s license portability provisions.”

Modified provisions of the SCRA signed into law on Jan. 5th make it a federal requirement to provide “reciprocity in accepting valid occupational licenses from previous jurisdictions,” which can eliminate time-consuming and costly recertification in the new state.

Military Times also reports there are more than 130 thousand “active-duty spouses in occupations like nursing and realty that require licensing, representing about 39% of military spouses in the workforce,” making the January 2023 legislation an important form of help for a large number of military spouses.

What the Federal Judge Found

In the case mentioned above, the federal judge ruled that the State of Texas ignored federal law by requiring a military spouse to verify “continuous use” of the plaintiff’s counseling credentials from another state before she relocated to Texas.

This verification was a condition of license transfer approval in Texas before the judge’s ruling.

The ruling in this case prevents the State of Texas from forcing the plaintiff to meet Texas requirements.

It does not necessarily change things nationally, but the ruling makes it harder for other states to ignore federal law in the way the State of Texas was accused of doing in this case.

A Brief History of the Military Spouse License Transfer Law

On January 5, 2023, the President signed legislation requiring interstate license transfer standards for military spouses. The goal was to make it easier for military families to make permanent change of station moves with reduced impact to the spouse’s career.

What was meant to make those PCS moves easier? The ability for a military spouse to transfer a professional license (except for law licenses) to a new state without having to requalify from scratch in the new location.

The new legislation required this, but six months after it was passed in January 2023, the Department of Justice had to send reminders to some states about compliance.

As mentioned above, the January 2023 federal ruling against the state of Texas means similar cases elsewhere would have a much better shot at winning.


About the author

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Editor-in-Chief Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter/editor for Air Force Television News and the Pentagon Channel. His freelance work includes contract work for Motorola, VALoans.com, and Credit Karma. He is co-founder of Dim Art House in Springfield, Illinois, and spends his non-writing time as an abstract painter, independent publisher, and occasional filmmaker.