By: Senator Diana DiZoglio – Nov. 2021
Hello Valley Patriot Readers,
While we have made important strides in recent years to help Massachusetts veterans – such as exempting members of the military in active duty from the automobile excise tax and expanding services and opportunities for veterans and their families through the Valor Act – there remains much work to be done.
That is why I am so pleased the Senate recently passed An Act relative to military spouse licensure portability, education and enrollment of dependents, “The SPEED Act,” legislation to bolster the support we provide to families of Massachusetts military members.
For military families, frequent moves are a way of life. Depending on the assignment, military members on average change stations every 24-36 months. This uprooting not only affects the service member – it impacts their entire family. Military spouses who hold professional licenses in other states must reapply for their license in Massachusetts. This can lead to periods of time where families are missing out on a key second source of income. The uncertainty can lead some service members to make the difficult decision to leave the military.
This ultimately puts our nation at risk. By putting service members and their spouses in an agonizing situation, we are hurting our force retention rate and jeopardizing our military’s ability to be troop ready. Likewise, the children of service members are impacted by these transitions as well.
Families often miss out on registration deadlines because they are uprooted mid-year, and college students are also affected.
The SPEED Act eliminates the current law’s ‘substantial equivalency’ licensure requirements, which require state agencies to determine whether other states’ licensing requirements are substantially equivalent to those in Massachusetts.
It would also require the Division of Occupational Licensure to accept a spouse’s application or notify of them of what criteria they did not meet within 30 days of applying, the timeframe recommended by the U.S. Department of Defense. While this 30-day time period is already frequently met by our state agencies, this legislation will make the requirement law.
The legislation waives the initial proof of residency requirement for school enrollment, allowing military children to begin attending school immediately upon moving to Massachusetts. It also allows for military parents to enroll their children in the Massachusetts virtual school network for greater flexibility.
The bill also creates a Purple Star School Program to designate Massachusetts schools that have demonstrated their commitment to military students and families by meeting specific state-designated requirements. This program encourages schools and districts to increase their supports for military families and helps the families identify the schools that are best prepared to meet their needs.
We must take every possible action to ease transitions for these families who are already sacrificing so much for us. I am hopeful we can get the SPEED Act to the Governor’s desk as soon as possible.
If you have any questions on this or any other issue, please feel free to contact me anytime via email at Diana.Dizoglio@masenate.gov or phone at 978-984-7747.
Yours in service,