RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A bill to repeal a Virginia law allowing the state to revoke your professional license if you fall behind on your student loans has now passed the House and Senate.
The bill, sponsored by Delegate Schuyler VanValkenburg and Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn, flew through the House unopposed and unanimously passed in the Senate.
An 8News investigation exposed the little known Virginia law that allows the Commonwealth to order the suspension of a license if a person is delinquent in the payment of their “federal or state educational loans.” The law can impact teachers or health professionals, such as nurses, psychologists, massage therapists and more.
Virginia is one of 19 states with the law.
Shannon Otto, a nurse in Tennessee who became ill and fell behind on her student loans, told 8News Investigative Reporter Kerri O’Brien she got a letter in the mail saying the state was revoking her nursing license. She said it was devastating.
“It doesn’t matter if you dedicated weeks and hours and years of your life to helping the people of your community get better because if you mess up and you can’t pay us back, we are going to strip you of your work,” Otto said.
Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers about these kinds of laws, said she was pleased to hear Virginia was working to overturn the measure.
“This is tantamount to the modern day debtor’s prison,” Weingarten said.
The bill now heads to the governor’s desk.
Stay with 8News for updates.