JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Missouri lawmakers this session are trying to make it easier for military spouses and out-of-state doctors, teachers, pharmacists and other licensed professionals to get jobs in the state.
Legislation approved by the Missouri state House this past week would allow those professionals to work in the state without going through the states’s licensing process. One bill would make the exception only for military spouses, who might move frequently. That bill wouldn’t allow military spouses to transfer teaching licenses to Missouri.
“It will allow military spouses the ability to start on day one, when they get here if they choose to, without jumping through a bunch of unnecessary hoops,” Republican bill sponsor Rep. Steve Lynch told colleagues during a Tuesday debate.
Republican Gov. Mike Parson called for license reciprocity for military spouses during his January State of the State address to the Republican-led Legislature. He told House and Senate sponsors of the measure that he’s counting on them to send legislation to his desk “very soon.”
Another bill would apply what’s called license reciprocity to all out-of-state professionals. Sponsor Rep. Derek Grier, a Chesterfield Republican, said doing so could expand the state’s workforce.
“Employers across the state are desperate right now for skilled workers,” he said. “We can’t find the people to fill the jobs.”
But Democratic critics in the House said the move could mean easing regulations on professionals who might have gone through less-rigorous licensing in other states.
“In this legislation, we’re wanting to dumb down what our priorities are, which should be the people first in the state of Missouri,” University City Democratic Rep. Maria Chappelle-Nadal said on the House floor. “I never want to be the one to advocate a dumbing down of health practices in my district, and I’m pretty sure that no one else would want to do that either.”
Others argued the move could mean it’s harder for Missouri workers to get licensed and work in the state than it is for out-of-state professionals.
The military bill passed the House on a 151-2 vote. The broader license reciprocity bill passed 114-38.
The bills now head to the Senate for consideration. Lawmakers face a mid-May deadline to pass legislation this year.