Utah Passes Legislation Allowing Competency-Based Occupational Licensing Requirements

Traditional occupational licensing standards typically require that applicants achieve a certain number of hours of training, education and/or experience and pass a cumulative examination before a license is granted by a state. However, the time-based requirements that states implement can vary widely. For example, aspiring barbers can be required to complete between 1,000 and 2,100 hours of training, depending on the state, before they are eligible for a license. This variance in standards demonstrates the discretion states can take in setting regulations that seek to balance public protection with economic opportunity. While licensing is a means to safeguard public health and safety, overly burdensome regulations can exacerbate the economic costs of licensing such as lower economic outputs and fewer jobs.

Seeking to reduce the regulatory burden on workers, the state of Utah established an alternative to time-based licensing requirements by passing House Bill 226, which grants its Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing the ability to implement competency-based requirements.

Rep. Norm Thurston, the sponsor of HB226, explained that competency-based requirements “involve a person learning skills at their own pace where they are subjected to competency-based examinations along the way to prove that they have attained those skills.”

In other words, competency-based requirements allow an individual to demonstrate their achievement of a certain skill as they obtain it. Instead of an individual having to fulfill the minimum number of hours and take a cumulative examination to receive a license, they can demonstrate competency throughout their training and education. With an individual being allowed to progress at their own pace, inefficiencies and redundancies in the licensing process are lessened and thus, the economic costs of licensing standards are reduced.

Thurston said that the legislation will primarily help individuals who may experience difficulties through the traditional system.

“It advantages two types of people,” he said. “First it helps anyone who can learn the skills quicker, maybe because of prior experience, greater aptitude or better instructors. It also benefits those who struggle in the traditional testing model such as people with test anxiety or individuals with disabilities.”  

The bill provides the director of Utah’s Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing the discretion to implement competency-based requirements for licensure where it is determined that it is “at least as effective as a time-based licensing requirement at demonstrating proficiency and protecting the health and safety of the public.”

Thurston said he imagines the model being used in partnership with traditional training programs through community colleges, apprenticeships programs and specialty schools, which may already be implementing this type of model but could benefit from pairing it with licensing standards.

Thurston further envisions that competency-based requirements could be used to create a licensure continuum where individuals are able receive credentials to perform certain services as they continue their education and training.

“For example, a cosmetologist may be able to pass the competency examinations to cut hair but maybe is not ready to use chemicals or color hair,” he said. “This model could allow the cosmetologist to start working and earn income as they are still learning other skills to receive further certifications.”

As states look to improve time to licensure and reduce its economic effects, competency-based requirements serve as an innovative alternative to the traditional licensing process.

CSG Launches New Occupational Licensing Website

With the number of jobs requiring an occupational license at an all-time high, The Council of State Governments (CSG), the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), and the National Governors Association (NGA) have come together to assist states in improving their understanding of occupational licensure issues and enhancing licensure portability.

Currently, the number of jobs requiring an occupational license is nearly one in four. While state licensing is important for developing a trained workforce and protecting public safety, disparities in requirements between states makes it harder for people to enter these fields, and at times can prevent individuals from continuing their careers after moving across state lines. These disparities often affect certain populations more than others, such as military spouses and families, unemployed and dislocated workers, immigrants with work authorization, and people with criminal records.

To address these issues, CSG, NCSL and NGA work directly with state officials to review existing licensing requirements and ensure that criteria do not create unnecessary barriers to individuals wanting to enter the labor market. Consortium states also compare their own legislation with that of other states to improve reciprocity provisions and portability for selected occupations.

During the first phase of this project, the 11 states in the consortium—Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Nevada, Utah and Wisconsin—have been working to improve their states’ policies and have benefitted from multi-state team meetings, state-specific technical assistance, in-state learning consortium meetings, and support from all three national organizations for state action plan development and implementation.

As part of this ongoing project, the occupational licensure team at CSG launched a new website that pulls together CSG’s expertise on the issue as well as news and current events such as seminars, passed legislation, and working initiatives.

The new website will serve as a resource for policymakers who want to learn more about licensure portability and connect them with tools that they can use in their own states. State officials will be able to access the project database, developed in partnership with NCSL, which provides extensive information on licensing requirements for 34 professions across all 50 states and the District of Columbia. In addition to the database, the site will provide information on the Occupational Licensing Policy Learning Consortium and project reports on the current state of licensure, suggested best practices, and disproportionately affected populations.

The website also contains resources regarding interstate compacts. CSG’s National Center for Interstate Compacts (NCIC) is the nation’s only information clearinghouse and technical assistance expert on interstate compact development. Increasingly, states are turning toward compacts to solve licensure portability issues. A compact creates a legally binding relationship between compact participants so that licensed practitioners can practice in multiple states.

As the project continues, participating states will continue to benefit from this network of professionals, fellow policymakers, and researchers as they work to strengthen the workforce of licensed professionals in their states.

States Grapple with Professional Wrestling Regulations

On April 23, Louisiana’s House Commerce Committee approved House Bill 405, a measure that would deregulate professional wrestling and remove oversight authority from the state’s Boxing and Wrestling Commission.[1] The commission remains unanimously opposed to HB 405, citing their role in protecting the “health and safety of both the participants and the folks in the audience.”[2]

Louisiana is far from the first state to take a step toward deregulating sports entertainment, and this committee hearing is indicative of a larger, nationwide conversation. In 1997, New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman, flanked by popular pro wrestler The Undertaker, signed into law a bill that recognized professional wrestling as “entertainment, not a sport”[3] and removed the state’s regulatory authority over the profession.

Even as far back as 1988, the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission recommended the deregulation of professional wrestling, citing a “built-in incentive for contestants to stay healthy…given the promoters’ interest in keeping wrestlers healthy enough to maintain the road show.”[4]

Lobbying efforts, led by World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc., have focused on eliminating oversight by state athletic commissions. Former WWE Executive Vice President (and former Trump administration official) Linda McMahon has often compared their profession to the Harlem Globetrotters – top-tier athletes who entertain fans at a show with a predetermined outcome.[5]

Eleven states currently do not regulate professional wrestling specifically, and many other states, acknowledging material differences between professional wrestling and boxing/MMA, have moved regulation from under an athletic board to under various insurance or licensing boards.[6]

Professional wrestling regulations vary state-to-state, but many elements are common: state occupational licensure contingent upon fees and a positive physical examination, media fees, on-site EMT and medical staff, and inspector clearance of facilities and props.[7] Given the interstate nature of professional wrestling, competitors typically work in multiple states in a single week, forcing them to apply, pay and pass requisite examinations in each state with a licensure requirement.

The current debates around regulating professional wrestling center around two main questions: “Is professional wrestling a sport?” and “Does the state have a role in protecting the health and safety of the competitors?” States have differing combinations of answers to these questions, which creates a patchwork of rules and regulations that these national companies must navigate.

The example of professional wrestling indicates that occupational licensing affects even niche professions. Pro wrestling is not unlike EMTs or nursing in its need for interstate licensure mobility. With such similar requisites for licensure, states seeking to reap the economic benefits of professional wrestling programming could benefit from an interstate compact around licensing of professional wrestlers and promoters.


[1] https://legiscan.com/LA/text/HB405/2019

[2] https://twitter.com/brynstole/status/1120708636140032000

[3] https://www.wrestlinginc.com/news/2019/01/regulating-professional-wrestling-650331/

[4] https://www.upi.com/Archives/1988/08/16/Professional-wrestling-should-be-deregulated-in-Texas-because-it/3635587707200/

[5] https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/5736691-Linda-McMahon-PA-Deregulation-Testimony-06-11-1987.html

[6] https://www.wrestlinginc.com/news/2019/01/regulating-professional-wrestling-650331/

[7] https://www.wrestlinginc.com/news/2019/01/regulating-professional-wrestling-650331/

New Kentucky Law Streamlines Occupational Licensing for Military-Affiliated Professionals

On March 26, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin signed HB 323, which will improve occupational licensure portability for veterans, military spouses, and National Guard and Reserve members.1 The bill will require administrative bodies that issue occupational licenses and other regulatory authorizations to endorse and license any applicant that is a member of the National Guard or Reserves, a veteran, or the spouse of a veteran or military member, provided he or she possesses or recently possessed an equivalent license in another state.

The out-of-state license will not be considered for recognition if the license has been expired for more than two years; the license has been revoked for disciplinary reasons or is otherwise not in good standing; or if the applicant demonstrates a substantive deficiency in training, education or experience that could pose a health or safety risk to the public.

While well-intentioned, occupational licensure has been linked to some unfavorable economic effects, such as increased unemployment, higher prices and muted geographic mobility.2,3,4 With over 25 percent of U.S. workers possessing a license, the ubiquity of occupational licensing can exacerbate the difficulty job seekers with military affiliation already have in securing employment.5

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, various military occupations offer training and experience in skills that are applicable to at least 962 disparate civilian occupations.6 Nevertheless, veterans routinely cite obtaining employment as one of the most challenging aspects of transitioning to civilian life.7 Occupational licensing regulations can magnify this difficulty when states fail to recognize out-of-state licenses and disallow applicants to use military experience and training in lieu of civilian credentials to fulfill licensing requirements. 

Spouses of military service members are particularly disadvantaged by licensing due to their propensity to work in tightly regulated industries (e.g., education, nursing and child care) and their frequent relocation across state lines.8 Specifically, military spouses are ten times more likely to have moved across state lines in the past year relative to their civilian counterparts.8 Because licensing procedures are largely determined by boards at the state level and can vary considerably, military spouses seeking to maintain licensure throughout geographic relocation can face substantial encumbrances.

The Kentucky bill should help alleviate some of these issues faced by veterans, military members and their spouses. By requiring licensing boards to endorse out-of-state licenses for military-affiliated applicants, the monetary and time costs of licensure are markedly reduced, potentially providing more employment opportunities for veterans, military members and especially their spouses.

Other states have taken similar legislative action to try to remove barriers to work for military-affiliated individuals seeking licensure. Alabama HB 388 (2018), which was signed last year, requires licensing boards to endorse military spouses licensed in another state with equally or more rigorous licensing standards.9 The bill also contains a provision that creates a temporary license for applicants from states with less stringent licensing requirements.

Vermont H 906 (2018) went into effect last year and sought to reduce the amount of redundant retraining members of the military must undergo to be eligible for a license.10 To that end, the bill credits members of the military with civilian experience and training for comparable military credentials.

As states continue to reassess their occupational licensing framework for unsound and overly burdensome provisions, a focus on reducing inefficient barriers and fostering license portability for veterans and military families is an important component that can ensure both efficient labor market utilization and public safety.

Sources

  1. Kentucky General Assembly. HB 323: AN ACT relating to reciprocal occupational licensure for members of the United States military, reserves, National Guard, veterans, and their spouses. 2019. Retrieved from https://apps.legislature.ky.gov/recorddocuments/bill/19RS/hb323/orig_bill.pdf
  2. Blair, P. Q., & Chung, B. W. (2018). How Much of Barrier to Entry is Occupational Licensing? (No. w25262). National Bureau of Economic Research.
  3. Kleiner, M. M., Marier, A., Park, K. W., & Wing, C. (2016). Relaxing occupational licensing requirements: Analyzing wages and prices for a medical service. The Journal of Law and Economics, 59(2), 261-291.
  4. Johnson, J. E., & Kleiner, M. M. (2017). Is Occupational Licensing a Barrier to Interstate Migration? (No. w24107). National Bureau of Economic Research.
  5. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2018). Data on certificates and licensing. Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/cps/cpsaat49.pdf
  6. U.S. Department of Labor. 2014. PILOT STUDY Translating Military Skills to Civilian Employment. Retrieved from https://wdr.doleta.gov/research/FullText_Documents/Pilot_Study_Translating_Military_Skills_to_Civilian_Employment_Acc.pdf
  7. Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (2019). 2019 Member Survey. Retrieved from https://cultureondemand.com/iava-2019/
  8. U.S. Department of the Treasury and U.S. Department of Defense. 2012. Supporting Our Military Families: Best Practices for Streamlining Occupational Licensing across State Lines. Retrieved from http://archive.defense.gov/home/pdf/Occupational_Licensing_and_Military_Spouses_Report_vFINAL.PDF
  9. The Alabama Legislature. HB 388: Military Family Jobs Opportunity Act. 2018. Retrieved from http://alisondb.legislature.state.al.us/ALISON/SearchableInstruments/2018RS/PrintFiles/HB388-int.pdf
  10. Vermont General Assembly. H.906 (Act 119): An act relating to professional licensing for service members and veterans. 2018. Retrieved from https://legislature.vermont.gov/Documents/2018/Docs/ACTS/ACT119/ACT119%20As%20Enacted.pdf

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Holds Occupational Licensure “Deregathon” in Orlando

Seeking to survey Florida’s occupational licensing regulations for unreasonably onerous provisions, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis recently held a one-day “Florida Deregathon” workshop at Valencia College in Orlando.

Seventeen of Florida’s 23 licensing boards had representatives in attendance to respond to the challenge posed by DeSantis in his invitation letter to the event: “Our expectation is that each board arrives prepared to roll-up its sleeves, discuss, debate, identify and recommend substantive regulations that can be targeted for immediate elimination,” wrote the governor. “We know that small business is the engine that drives Florida’s economic success. And yet unreasonable and needless regulations create a drag on our economic growth, stifle competition and keep hard working Floridians out of the labor pool.”1

The regulatory intent of occupational licensure is to safeguard the public from incompetent practitioners and foster information symmetry between consumers and producers. However, occupational licensure has faced contempt from both politicians and theoretical economists over the years, contending that it needlessly inhibits economic activity by stifling market entry into occupations, driving up prices, and discouraging geographic relocation for work.

Indeed, the data suggests this phenomenon is realized in the real world. A recent National Bureau of Economic Research working paper found that occupational licensure reduces labor supply by an average of 17 to 27 percent.2 The result of this is forgone wages and tax revenue. This indicates that, provided adequate public protection is maintained, shrewd occupational licensing reform could bring these unrealized benefits to fruition, increasing the welfare of society.  

While the Florida board members were not expected to hold any official votes at the workshop, a host of prospective amendmentsaimed at reducing these harmful effects were discussed. The most prevalent included lightening continuing education, experience, and training requirements; reducing application fees and exam costs; extending renewal periods; and employing more generous recognition of out-of-state licenses.3

Similar measures have been the focus of recent, albeit largely unsuccessful, legislative efforts in Florida. Spearheaded by State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, House Bill 1413 (2018), which died in subcommittee last year, would have instituted a two-year temporary endorsement of Puerto Rico licenses and certifications for migrants from the U.S. territory, many of which evacuated following Hurricane Maria in 2017.4

House Bill 15 (2018) sought more sweeping reform. The bill, which was passed by the Florida House of Representative but never made it out of the Senate, would have substantially diminished required training hours for licensees and outright repealed licensure for various occupations.5

House Bill 615 (2017) was one of the few legislative successes on this front, having been enacted in 2017. The bill emphasized licensure portability by allowing military members, spouses, and surviving spouses to obtain licensure in Florida, provided they are licensed in another state.6

The proliferation of occupational licensure in the U.S. has encouraged states to review best practices and evaluate the efficacy of existing regulations. CSG has played an instrumental role in facilitating this process. In 2017, CSG in partnership with NCSL and NGA launched a three-year project titled Occupational Licensing: Assessing State Policy and Practice. The aim of the undertaking is threefold: to help states improve their understanding of occupational licensure issues and best practices; identify current policies that create unnecessary barriers to labor market entry; and create an action plan that focuses on removing barriers to labor market entry and improves portability and reciprocity for selected occupations.

The “Florida Deregathon” event is another example of the growing appetite among states for reassessing their occupational licensing framework and increasing their commitment to ensuring that licensing provisions meaningfully protect the public, not gratuitously hinder economic productivity.

Sources:

  1. Governor Ron DeSantis Announces “Florida Deregathon” Event. January 2019. Retrieved from https://www.flgov.com/2019/01/24/governor-ron-desantis-announces-florida-deregathon-event/
  2. Blair, P. Q., & Chung, B. W. (2018). How Much of Barrier to Entry is Occupational Licensing? (No. w25262). National Bureau of Economic Research.
  3. Florida Deregathon. January 31, 2019. Retrieved from https://static1.squarespace.com/static/598a8562f43b55981f9a2f5a/t/5c59adfeec212d5c93d55734/1549381119220/DBPR+-+Deregathon+Power+Point_PDF+Version.pdf
  4. Florida State Senate. HB 1413: Temporary Licensure and Certification. 2018. Retrieved from http://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2018/1413
  5. Florida State Senate. HB 15: Deregulation of Professions and Occupations. 2018. Retrieved from https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2018/00015/Category
  6. Florida State Senate. HB 615: Professional Regulation. 2017. Retrieved from https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2017/615

New Ohio Law Targets Occupational Licensing Boards and Aids People with Criminal Records

Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed SB 255 on Friday which puts an expiration date of 6 years on all state licensing boards unless they are renewed by the legislature. Prior to a board’s end date, the board must present to standing committees so that lawmakers can evaluate the usefulness, performance, and effectiveness of the board. Each board will have the burden of proof to demonstrate there is a public need for its continued existence. The Legislature will determine whether a board is necessary to protect the health, safety, or welfare of the public and whether its regulations are the least restrictive form that adequately protects the public interest.

This sunset review will also analyze a board’s staff, its budget and its enforcement actions and conclude whether the board has inhibited economic growth, reduced efficiency, or increased the cost of government. One-third of the state’s licensing boards will be reviewed every two years.

Any proposed occupational regulations will have to undergo a similar sunrise review process. The Ohio Legislative Service Commission will analyze the extent to which the requirement for the occupational license stimulates or restricts competition, affects consumer choice, and affects the cost of services.

Boards who present to the legislature to introduce new regulations are expected to provide evidence of present, significant, and substantiated harms to consumers in the state and explain why current laws are insufficient. The goal of the sunrise and sunset reviews in SB 255 are to prohibit new and existing regulations that restrict entrants into the occupation with no clear public protection need identified.

The law also allows an individual who has been convicted of a criminal offense to request a licensing authority to determine whether the individual is disqualified from receiving or holding a license based on conviction. This is particularly impactful for people with criminal convictions who are considering occupations with extensive amount of training or education required. Previously an applicant might go through years of training and spend thousands of dollars only to find out when they apply for a license that their criminal conviction disqualifies them from licensure. Under this new provision, licensing boards must tell a potential application whether or not they have a conviction that would ban them from receiving a licensure which will spare practitioners a significant amount of resources. Licensing boards must also publish all offenses that could disqualify applicants online.

Ohio is following in the footsteps of Nebraska who was the first state to pass legislation mandating this type of sunrise/sunset review process. Nebraska’s LB299 has the same twostep process for review where first, there must be “present, significant, and substantiated harms” that warrant government intervention. Second, if such a problem exists, the legislators must first consider a regulation that is the “least restrictive” and imposes the lowest burdens and costs while still protecting consumers from the harm. A similar bill was also passed last legislative session in Louisiana.

As states continue to think about the way they regulate occupations, more states may follow this sunrise/sunset model as a way to thoughtfully consider if government intervention is needed to protect the health and safety of the public.

NCIC Summit of the States: A Tested Solution to Today’s Policy Issues

By Debra Miller

This panel examined the evolution and current use of interstate compacts, discuss the history of interstate compacts and examine the scope of interstate problems states now tackle through compacts, with a focus on occupational licensure compacts. Additionally, the panel explored other forms of multistate cooperation and discussed why compacts are viewed as a superior solution to foster interstate cooperation, protect consumers and guard state sovereignty. As policymakers confront issues from health care delivery to infrastructure revitalization, interstate compacts allow states to work collaboratively across state lines to bring resolution to some of America’s most pressing issues with innovation and a unified voice.

• Jeff Litwak, General Counsel, Columbia River Gorge Compact Click here for slides
• Rick Masters, Special Counsel, National Center for Interstate Compacts
 

BIOGRAPHIES

Jeffrey B. Litwak, Counsel, The Columbia River Gorge Commission

The Columbia River Gorge Commission is the interstate compact agency for the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Litwak’s practice includes interstate compacts, administrative law, land use, state and local government law, and civil appeals. He is admitted to practice in Oregon, Washington, and the U.S. district courts for Oregon and the Western District of Washington, Ninth Circuit, and U.S. Supreme Court. Litwak is also an adjunct professor of law at Lewis and Clark Law School, where he teaches interstate compact law, Oregon land use law, and administrative law.

Rick Masters, Special Counsel, The National Center for Interstate Compacts

Masters is special counsel to CSG’s National Center for Interstate Compacts (NCIC), providing legal guidance on the law and use of interstate compacts, their application and enforcement and bill drafting guidance in conjunction with the various NCIC compact projects. He has been a primary drafter of many compacts including multistate licensure compacts for the professions of nursing, medicine, physical therapy, emergency medical services and psychology. He also provides legal advice to a variety of compact governing boards and agencies and testifies before state legislatures and Congress about compact legislation. He does extensive research and writing in the field of interstate compacts including co-authoring the largest compilation of laws and commentary on the subject published by the American Bar Association in 2016 entitled The Evolving Law and Use of Interstate Compacts 2nd Edition.

NCIC Summit of the States: The Nuts and Bolts – Administering Interstate Occupational Licensure Compacts

By Debra Miller

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the number of licensed occupations has risen from 5 percent of the U.S. workforce in the 1950s to about a quarter of the workforce today. Navigating the various state licensing processes can pose a significant challenge for workers due to different rules, regulations, fee structures and continuing education requirements. This panel looked at the rising use of occupational licensure compacts, particularly in the health care sector, to achieve professional licensure portability and reciprocity and the potential impacts on America’s workforce. 

• Moderator: Dan Manz, REPLICA Click here for slides
• Scott Majors, Kentucky Board of Physical Therapy Click here for slides
• Joey Ridenour, Arizona State Board of Nursing Click here for slides
• Diana Shepard, West Virginia Board of Osteopathic Medicine

BIOGRAPHIES

Scott Majors, Executive Director, Kentucky Board of Physical Therapy

Majors has served as executive director for the Kentucky Board of Physical Therapy since 2012. He currently serves as Kentucky’s delegate to the Physical Therapy Licensure Compact Commission. Earlier this year he was elected to serve as a member of the Compact Commission’s Executive Board, and he has been a member of the Commission’s Rules and Bylaws Committee since its inception. Majors came to the Physical Therapy Board from Kentucky’s Judicial Conduct Commission where he served as its executive secretary. He also previously served as prosecuting attorney for the Kentucky Board of Nursing. He has over 30 years of experience working in state government with administrative boards, agencies and commissions, with a focus placed on licensing and regulation, disciplinary procedures, administrative adjudication, and professional ethics.

W. Daniel Manz

Manz served for 25 years as the Vermont Department of Health’s emergency medical services director and the operations and logistics administrator with Vermont’s Office of Public Health Preparedness and EMS. He went on to serve as the executive director of Essex Rescue for five years. He is currently involved in championing the 2018 update to the National EMS Scope of Practice Model and as of July 1, 2018 has been supporting the implementation of the REPLICA EMS Compact.  He is a commissioner on Vermont Public Safety Broadband Commission and also the vice-president of the Vermont Ambulance Association.

Joey Ridenour, Executive Director, Arizona State Board of Nursing

Ridenour’s prior experience includes over ten years as chief nursing officer at a large public hospital, Maricopa Health System. She found her greatest passion to be nursing regulation and served as past president of the Arizona State Board of Nursing ten years prior to being appointed as executive director in 1995. She has also served on the NCSBN Board of Directors and as president for four years. She has served as chair on five NCSBN committees and is the current chair of the NLC Rules Committee. She had been a member of the original NLC since 2002 and served on the NLC Executive Committee for seven years and as chair for four years. 

Diana Shepard , Executive Director, Board of Osteopathic Medicine

Shepard comes from a background in hospital administration. She serves on the Board of Directors of Administrators in Medicine (AIM). She is the AIM Southern representative, which includes Alabama, Florida (MD & DO boards), Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee (MD & DO boards), Virgin Islands, Virginia, and West Virginia (MD & DO boards).

Occupational Licensing Consortium Convenes Second National Meeting

On November 28-30, the states a part of the occupational licensing policy learning consortium convened for the second annual meeting in Clearwater, Florida. The state teams had the opportunity to focus on four population groups who are disproportionately affected by licensure—individuals with criminal records, veterans and military spouses, dislocated workers and immigrants with work authorization. License portability, reciprocity, and interstate compacts were also major topics. States had the opportunity to connect with and learn from fellow consortium states, as well as hear from states outside of the consortium that have taken action on occupational licensure including Nebraska and Michigan. 

New funding allowed for four new states to participate in this year’s consortium meeting. Idaho, New Hampshire, North Dakota, and Vermont formed state teams made up of legislators, regulatory agencies, and governor’s staff and joined the original 11 states in Clearwater to begin action planning their licensure reform. These states who recently came aboard the project will be part of the consortium going forward.

CSG was also able to expand existing state teams to include more regulatory board members. Licensure reform is a challenging policy area with many competing interests. Bringing together all stakeholders is something CSG wanted to accomplish as a part of this effort. Pursuing licensure reform without input from the licensure boards is not something states have had much success with. In order to engage more regulatory agencies, CSG used additional funding to expand state teams to include these key stakeholders.

The focus on particular reforms from the consortium states as discussed at the meeting ranges widely from sunrise/sunset review, interstate compacts, communications/marketing plans, board consolidation, data collection/standardization, and laws for military families.

One additional point of discussion for the state teams was developing a transition plan for states with outgoing governors and legislators. With state teams being made up heavily of legislators and governor staff, some teams are needing to come up with a plan maintain momentum once these new state leaders take office. The partners at CSG, NCSL, and NGA have committed to developing a transitional memo that states can request which will explain the project and ask for support from the newly elected official.  

The consortium will formally meet one more time in the summer of 2019, but the project partners hope this is just the beginning of state occupational licensing reform.

Vermont Deputy Secretary of State Chris Winters said, “This was the best conference I’ve ever been a part of. I was so glad to be able to contribute, and was also really proud of my Vermont team and their focus. This conference has energized them.”

Each consortium state has accomplished things throughout this project, but the latest consortium meeting in Clearwater was a great time for states to reset focus, refine vision, and energize to pursue common sense licensure reform.

States Explore Occupational Licensure Reform

The consortium of states participating in the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Licensing: Assessing State Policy and Practice project recently began their second round of project meetings to discuss occupational license reform. The 11 states–Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Nevada, Utah and Wisconsin–are individually meeting to further review their licensure process, engage with policy experts and develop action plans. The state team meetings will culminate this year in the project’s second multistate learning consortium summit to be held Nov. 28-30 in Clearwater, Florida.

The Council of State Governments, along with its project partners the National Conference of State Legislators and the National Governors Association, continues to deliver technical assistance to the states during the project by facilitating meetings, issuing policy reports and collecting state licensing data. The partners recently published four reports that focus on the unique challenges and barriers specific to immigrants with work authorizationpeople with criminal recordslow-income, unemployed & dislocated workers; and veterans and military spouses.

The following is an update on the progress some of the states have made during the second round of meetings.

Kentucky

The Kentucky team’s meeting on Sept. 19 provided the group an opportunity to learn about the differences in state regulatory board structures as well as discuss opportunities for further research including sunrise/sunset review legislation.

“Occupational licensure is a topic that really encompasses a multitude of policy areas including workforce and economic development and veterans’ affairs,” said Brian Houillion, chief of staff and executive director of financial management and administration for the Kentucky Department for Local Government. “The goal is to take a look at what regulatory framework will best serve the needs of the state. For example, during the meeting we explored the different types of state regulatory board structures as part of our ongoing conversation on finding ways to improve our licensure board system.”

Kentucky was also recently awarded an additional $450,000 Department of Labor grant to further help improve the licensure process in the state.

“The grant allowed us to bring on a grant and project administrator to better facilitate the process of licensing reform,” said Houillion. “The additional staff will assist the state’s project team to complete the smaller steps that occur between meetings and stay on objective.”

Utah

During Utah’s Sept. 21 project meeting, the team learned from policy experts about competency-based testing, improving the processes of sunrise/sunset provisions, and licensure burdens specific to immigrants.

Utah state Sen. Todd Weiler, who is a member the state’s Occupational and Professional Licensure Review Committee, said the meeting was a continuation of the team “doing its due diligence by taking deep dives into policy areas and learning from the experts.” He added that one of the team’s primary purposes was to “do the laboring work before the Legislature considers additional reform.”

“Utah is in a transition state as it moves from an older model to a more up to date approach,” he added. “The project team is answering the questions about the health and safety objectives to be achieved through licensure and how to step away from the turf battle of professions and focus on how the customer is best served. The pendulum has swung to decrease regulation wherever it makes sense.”

Utah enacted a number of occupational licensure reform legislation last year that focused on improving licensure mobility, reducing regulation and assisting relocating military families. 

Maryland

Maryland’s Sept. 25 project team meeting centered on ways to expand licensure portability and improve stakeholder messaging. Victoria Wilkins, commissioner of the Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing at the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation commented on the importance of improving the state’s licensure process through the project.

“Anything that decreases regulations to get more people employed while still maintaining public health and safety is something we want to explore,” she said. “The project allows us to hold cross sectional learning meetings with a variety of stakeholders to improve the conversation about licensure.”

The state team is organized in a committee-based structure, which divides the group’s focus areas into the categories: identifying barriers, business needs, community relations, data and research, and addressing the “low hanging fruit” of licensure reform. Wilkins said the “low-hanging fruit” committee could, for example, address some licensure issues outside of the state’s legislative sessions.

“The Legislature only meets once a year, so the committee was established to identify what are some of the simpler changes that could be made in the meantime,” she said. “For instance, the passing score thresholds for plumber licensing exams were recently revised to bring them into uniformity with Maryland’s other licenses.”

The meeting’s guest speaker was Karen Goldman, attorney advisor for the Office of Policy Planning at the Federal Trade Commission, who presented her recently completed FTC policy report on licensure mobility. In the report, Goldman highlighted the important role that CSG’s National Center for Interstate Compacts serves when it comes to how states deal with structuring reciprocity. 

CSG National Conference

The Council of State Governments is providing additional opportunities for states to engage with policy experts and advance the conversation on occupational licensure reform during its annual National Conference, to be held in Greater Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky, Dec. 5-8. The conference will include multiple sessions to foster learning about licensure reciprocity through state compacts, lessons from military members and spouses state licensing policies, and specific case studies of how certain professions have handled reciprocity.

To find out more information about the conference, including how to register, please visit https://www.csg.org/2018nationalconference/Agenda18.aspx