DENVER, Colo. --
Colonel Devin Pepper, 460th Space Wing commander, along with his wife, Alicia Pepper and several spouses from Buckley Air Force Base to include Sara Rodriguez, President of the Buckley Spouses Group, Meljun Kruk, 2018 Air Force Space Command Spouse of the Year and Ann Brushier, wife of Lt. Col. Ray Brushier, 460th Cyberspace Squadron commander, witnessed Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, sign into law, Colorado House Bill 20-1326, the “Create Occupational Credential Portability Program Act,” at the Colorado State Capitol building in Denver on June 25, 2020.
“Signing of this bill represents a big win for military spouses,” said Pepper. “It alleviates a lot of the costs families have to pay in order for spouses to maintain their certifications when moving to a new assignment. This has been a burden for many families for many years, but today, Colorado has alleviated this burden.”
Prior to this bill, Colorado allowed military spouses who have relocated on active duty orders to obtain a temporary occupational license or certificate for one year at no extra cost. With the passing of HB 20-1326, the time to hold a temporary license is extended from one year to three years, which is approximately how long a military member is stationed at an installation.
“I’m particularly excited to sign this bill because it allows for military spouses who have an active occupational license in any state to be able to practice their trade here,” said Polis.
The signing of HB 20-1326 allows more time for a spouse to find a job with their license. It also helps reduce the time and costs of qualifying for a new license due to the differences in local and state licensing regulations. After their temporary license expires, spouses can elect to renew their temporary license, or obtain a Colorado specific occupational license.
On Feb. 18, 2020, the Department of Defense delivered to Congress the “Military Spouse Licensure: State Best Practices and Strategies for Achieving Reciprocity” report, which states “Military spouses face a 24% unemployment rate, much higher than the general population.”
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, a study taken in May of 2020 stated that national unemployment currently sits at 13.3 percent.
Families that would benefit directly from this bill can be found at six different military installations in Colorado. Buckley Air Force Base alone contains and supports 3,100 active duty members from every service, 4,000 National Guardsmen and Reservists, and approximately 40,000 veterans and dependents.
“The signing of this bill shows the power of the voices and support of our military spouses and advocates,” said Alicia Pepper, Buckley Air Force Base key spouse mentor and wife of Col. Pepper. “Colorado has given military spouses a huge win today. Laws that support our military families can significantly contribute to our retention. We couldn’t be more grateful to each and every individual who put their time and heart into supporting this bill and our military family community."