Sen. Mike Bernskoetter’s Legislative Column for July 1, 2020

Celebrating the Fourth of July

All across the country, Americans will be coming together to celebrate our nation’s birthday. They’ll be barbecuing, lighting fireworks and enjoying the company of family and friends. After all, the Fourth of July is a time that we come together as a nation and celebrate. But it’s also a time for reflection.

In my opinion, the Fourth of July provides an opportunity for each of us to reflect on where we are as a country. It is easy to watch the news or listen to the chatter at the local coffee shop and discover the numerous ways we are different. It seems no one can agree on anything these days; however, despite our differences, we are all Americans. As I contemplate the importance of celebrating our country’s independence, my thoughts often turn to one of the most eloquent phrases from our nation’s founding: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” These words mean a lot to me and many other Americans. So do the individuals who help preserve these unalienable rights and our way of life: our service members and our veterans.

These brave men and women put their lives on the line to keep us safe and preserve our way of life. They make sacrifices that not many of us would make. And so do their families. When a service member is transferred, their family members are asked to uproot their lives, change schools and even give up good job opportunities. This last part can be particularly hard on families. According to the U.S. Department of Defense, the unemployment rate for active-duty civilian military spouses is 24 percent, which is much higher than the general population. Complicating that issue further, military spouses are disproportionately affected by varying occupational licensing requirements between states, according to the president’s Council of Economic Advisors. Navigating the often complicated bureaucratic hurdles of professional licensing can hinder a spouse from quickly and easily reentering the workforce in a new state.

To help ease some of that burden, the General Assembly passed and the governor signed House Bill 1511 this year. This bill allows any resident or nonresident military spouse to apply for an occupational license in Missouri, as long as he or she holds a valid, current license issued by another state or territory of the United States. I was happy to support this bill, and I’m glad the governor signed it into law. Hopefully, this legislation will reduce some of the stress military families face as they relocate to Missouri and help hardworking people get back to work in their chosen profession. I think HB 1511 is just one way we can help repay our service members and their families for all the sacrifices they make for us.

As we celebrate this Fourth of July, I want to thank all our veterans and service members for all they do to protect our country. It is because of them that we are truly the land of the free and the home of the brave. May God bless our troops, and may God bless the United States of America. I hope you and your family have a safe and happy Fourth.

Please feel free to contact my office at (573) 751-2076. For information about my committee assignments or sponsored legislation, please visit my official Missouri Senate website at