Several Years of Hard Work Pays Off
Clarksville, TN – Tennessee State Representative Joe Pitts passed HB Bill 984 on the House Floor on Monday night with a vote of 97 to 0. Tennessee now joins 39 other states in granting unemployment compensation to spouses who leave employment because of a military move.
“This is a great day for our state and nation. I want to thank Tennessee State Senator Tim Barnes, who passed the legislation in the Senate earlier this year, and Governor Bill Haslam for their support and hard work on this bill,” Pitts said. This bill will become effective immediately upon the Governor signature.
“The Governor’s support of this bill shows that Tennesseans truly care about our military families,” Barnes said. “This is a tangible way to show our support and gratitude to our veterans, and I’m humbled to have the opportunity to do so.”
The Governor’s decision marks the first time that such funding has been included in the state budget, after years of work by Barnes, Pitts and other lawmakers to provide benefits for those who have to leave their jobs due to their spouses’ military orders.
Barnes and Pitts’ bill (SB884/HB984) would require the state to pay unemployment benefits for those who left their jobs as a result of a spouse’s military transfer. More than 1,700 Tennessee military spouses are employed and have to transfer each year.
According to the Department of Defense, Tennessee was one of only 11 states that do not currently provide unemployment benefits for military spouses forced to leave their jobs due to a military transfer. Tennessee would likely see about 73 unemployment claims from military spouses each year, according to the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development, resulting in an estimated cost of less than $278,800.
“In a year of improving state revenues, providing benefits to military spouses was at the top of our priorities,” Pitts said. “These funds will help military spouses fill in the gap as they resettle, get their children in school and start looking for a new job. This is a matter of military readiness and fairness to these families.”