- Associated Press - Thursday, May 22, 2014

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Military service members and spouses trained as teachers, police officers, hair stylists and other professions requiring state certification could begin working immediately if they relocate to Minnesota through a new law that grants them temporary licenses.

Now, those honorably discharged and their husbands and wives will be eligible to work in their chosen fields while they pursue Minnesota’s certification requirements, Lt. Governor Yvonne Prettner Solon said during a Thursday phone interview.

“They’ll be able to begin practicing almost immediately,” Prettner Solon said.

Gov. Mark Dayton on Tuesday signed the law, which also codified a Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System policy that allows out-of-state current and former members of the military and their spouses and dependents to get-in-state tuition rates. Gina Sobania, the state university system’s director of military and adult learning services, said that policy has existed since 2008.

The lieutenant governor said the idea for the law came from first lady Michelle Obama’s office in Washington. It is part of the “Joining Forces” initiative that began in 2011 and seeks to provide opportunities to service members.

“The first lady says we shouldn’t disadvantage our military-service members by putting economic roadblocks in their way,” the lieutenant governor said.

Prettner Solon said the licensing policy would cost a total of about $279,000. Some $209,000 would come from the general fund, with the balance borne by the various professional boards. The law also mandates that those boards create an expedited licensing process for service members. The lieutenant governor and her staff did not know how many people the new law might affect.

“It’s hard to tell because we’re talking about people moving into the state,” Prettner Solon said.

More than 20 states have passed laws authorizing state licensure boards to accept military education, training and experience toward licensure, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Thirty-two states enacted legislation supporting expedited endorsements, access to temporary licenses or both for the majority of licensed occupations.