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  • Writer's pictureTim Carpenter, Kansas Reflector

Kelly signs bill exempting servicemembers, spouses from Kansas occupational licensing fees

Updated: 5 days ago

Gov. Laura Kelly signed a bill unanimously approved by the Kansas Legislature to exempt U.S. military servicemembers and their spouses living in Kansas from state licensing and credential fees. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)


By Tim Carpenter, Kansas Reflector


TOPEKA — Gov. Laura Kelly, the daughter of a career U.S. Army officer, signed a bill designed to expand employment opportunities for active duty military service members and their spouses by exempting them from the state’s occupational licensing, registration and certification fees.


Application of the reciprocal licensing provisions in House Bill 2745 would be limited to individuals residing in Kansas or planning to live in the state due to military assignments. The law would waive fees for applications, licenses, registrations, certifications or permits sought from a Kansas credentialing agency, including fees for a criminal background report and renewal of a credential.


“I know the importance of supporting our military personnel and their spouses,” Kelly said on Friday. “I’m proud to sign this bipartisan bill that knocks down barriers and ensures military spouses have every opportunity to fill the jobs we’ve created in Kansas.”


The legislation was adopted 119-0 by the House in February and 40-0 by the Senate on March 26.


In February, Kelly said Kansas was the first state to join the Alliance for States Providing Interoperable Reciprocity to advocate for acceleration of reciprocity among states for benefit of military families.


“Military spouses play a crucial role in contributing to Kansas’ workforce and economic success,” said Sen. Usha Reddi, a Manhattan Democrat representing a district that included the Fort Riley Army base. “This bill will allow us to better support our servicemembers and their families by removing the hurdles military spouses face when seeking job opportunities.”


Master Sgt. Eugene Bradley, the Kansas National Guard’s noncommissioned officer in charge of legislative affairs, said the change in transfer and accessibility of occupational licenses was the right decision for service members and their families, but the reform had broader implications.


He said the U.S. Department of Defense made a state’s regulatory framework a factor when grading installations for new missions. He said the 190th Air Refueling Wing at Forbes Field in Topeka was competing with other installations to replace its decades-old fleet of KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft with the new KC-46 Pegasus.


“Approximately 10 states are competing for this aircraft,” he said. “Kansas will be graded during this process on spouse licensing and employment opportunities, among other criteria. HB 2745 would help this effort. It is also important in the case of any future base realignment and closure efforts when it comes to retaining current missions and force structure.”


Meanwhile, the Democratic governor signed Senate Bill 481 to rename the Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus as the Kansas State University-Salina.


Kelly signed House Bill 2525 to provide additional funding for the state’s water program management fund through regulation of underground injection control wells. She signed into law an expansion of peer support counseling for first responders and law enforcement contained in House Bill 2557.


In addition, the governor put pen to paper on House Bill 2587 to authorize drainage district boards to conduct meetings in executive session under provisions of the Kansas Open Meetings Act.


This article was reprinted with permission from the Kansas Reflector. The Kansas Reflector is a non-profit online news organization serving Kansas. For more information on the organization, go to its website at www.kansasreflector.com.

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