Source: US State of Missouri
The Missouri General Assembly has sent the first completed bill of the 2020 legislative session to the governor for his signature. I’m proud to report the first measure to cross the finish line is one I guided through the Senate. This legislation streamlines the process for spouses of military personnel to transfer professional licenses when they move to Missouri.
A priority of the governor, the first measure “truly agreed and finally passed” began in the House of Representatives as one of two essentially identical and parallel bills. I introduced Senate Bill 673, which has passed the Senate and has been referred to the House. I also had the honor of shepherding House Bill 1511 once it reached the upper chamber. Both bills address a problem faced by military families deployed to Missouri. While the man or woman in uniform goes straight to work, their spouse often faces difficulty finding a job because their out-of-state professional credentials are not recognized in Missouri. The legislation sent to the governor allows military spouses to apply for an occupational license in Missouri, as long as he or she holds a valid license issued by another state or U.S. territory.
According to a recent report published by the U.S. Council of Economic Advisors, 35 percent of military spouses work in fields requiring professional licenses. In Missouri, accountants, architects, beauticians, engineers, land surveyors, massage therapists, private investigators, real estate agents, speech therapists, tattoo artists and a host of other occupations all require a state license. The need to obtain professional certification every time a military family relocates to a new state contributes to a 24 percent unemployment rate among civilian spouses of military personnel.
This measure will make it easier for the spouses of our servicemen and women to join Missouri’s workforce. Often, these are highly educated people with vast experience. Easing their path to employment helps military families and benefits our communities.
Also this week, the Senate passed three other pieces of legislation I sponsored. Senate Bill 866 allows physician assistants to serve on ambulances. This measure will help address staffing shortages experienced by rural ambulance and EMS districts. Senate Bill 725 makes changes to laws regarding qualifications for boards and commissions in certain cities with populations less than 2,000. The measure would give these small communities the option of allowing people who own property or a business in town to serve on local boards, even if the person doesn’t live within the city limits. Senate Bill 774 allows authorized employees of the Missouri State Highway Patrol to certify the location of boat manufacturers and dealers. The measure will free uniformed patrol officers from having to perform this routine task. Each of these measures will now be taken up by the House of Representatives.
Due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19, the leadership of the Missouri Senate has extended the annual legislative spring recess. Our legislative spring break, scheduled to begin March 16, will start one week earlier, on March 9. The General Assembly is expected to be back in session on Monday, March 30.
All Senate offices will be closed during this time but my legislative staff will still be working. If you have concerns or questions during spring recess, please don’t hesitate to call or email.
It’s my honor to serve as your senator for the 16th District. If you have questions or need any assistance, please call my office at 573-751-5713 or log onto my webpage at https://www.senate.mo.gov/brown for more information.