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.

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

Veterans’ Employment Service Unveils Resource for Military Spouses

By Jay Phillips

On June 28, 2018, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Services, or VETS, announced a professional license and credential finder portal for military spouses. The webpage comes after President Trump’s Executive Order Enhancing Noncompetitive Civil Service Appointments of Military Spouses. The webpage provides a comprehensive one-stop destination for occupational licensing portability, pulls resources from across the federal government, and highlights states with licensing rights for military spouses.

“Military spouses serve alongside our nation’s servicemen and women,” U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta said in a press release announcing the webpage. “States should act to remove excessive regulatory barriers to work so that our military spouses can help support their families. This new site highlights states’ efforts to help military spouses secure good, family-sustaining jobs.”

Military spouses can use the portal to search for state laws, regulations and guidelines on occupational licensing. The website also includes information on how occupational licenses can be recognized from one state to another. Many states have specific standards for military spouses to encourage the obtainment of a license in their state. Methodologies range from endorsement, expediting, temporary licenses or a variety of combinations.

The new tool provides spouses with information they need to continue their careers following relocation to another state. Finding solutions for veterans and military families to barriers related to occupational licensing is a priority of CSG. A current CSG project funded by the Department of Labor, Occupational Licensing: Assessing State Policy and Practice, prioritizes veterans and military spouses as a target population for licensure reform.

CSG’s National Center for Interstate Compacts is also a vital resource for military families looking for reciprocity of licensure. Compacts vary in authority and structure based on the occupation but are a proven best-practice for enhancing reciprocity among states in occupational licensing.

Connecticut Collaborating on Best Practices for Occupational Licensing

By Ray Williams

Connecticut held a meeting on March 2, 2018 on occupational licensure with assistance from The Council of State Governments, or CSG, the National Conference of State Legislatures, or NCSL and the National Governor’s Association, or NGA.

CSG launched an occupation licensing technical assistance project in August 2017 in partnership NCSL and NGA, through a $7.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, or DOL. The 11 state consortium includes Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Nevada, Utah and Wisconsin. Each state focused on specific occupations and target populations in an attempt to identify known and unknown barriers of occupational licensing.

The DOL project scope identified the key populations for each state as military spouses and children, immigrants with work authorization, people with criminal records and unemployed and dislocated workers. The DOL identified 34 occupations for evaluation, allowing each state to select specific occupations based on their individual needs. The overall objective of the project is to examine occupational licensing requirements, identifying potential barriers and to improve portability across state lines.

The consortium met last November in Tucson Arizona, giving state leaders an opportunity to work on action planning with licensing stakeholders, while collaboratively collecting data. Since the November meeting, 7 states have held in state meetings including Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland and Nevada. The remaining 4 states, including Indiana, Kentucky, Utah and Wisconsin have in state meetings planned in the coming weeks.

Throughout these meetings, reciprocity is one of the emerging themes and states are looking to neighboring states, as well as consortium states, to ease occupational licensing portability between state lines.

Connecticut’s Department of Public Health Section Chief Christian Anderson said during the 2017 consortium meeting, “We have always assumed that Connecticut’s reciprocity agreements have been a selling point for the state but we really didn’t know until we met with consortium states.” 

During Connecticut’s in-state meeting, April 2018, Director of Policy Bill Wlez said, “it is imperative that Connecticut review and expand reciprocity agreenents with consortium states, as well as neighboring states, to stay competitive and continuing to protect public safety.”

Over the course of the project, consortium states are relying on current and active interstate compacts as a means to solve problems that span state boundaries. CSG’s National Center for Interstate Compacts, or NCIC, is a policy program developed by CSG to assist states in developing interstate compacts, which are contracts between states. Currently, the NCIC manages more than 200 active interstate compacts helping states facilitate consensus on national issues.

CSG, NCSL and NGA provided a throughout review of state requirements and reciprocity agreements on occupational licenses. The collected data will allow all states to ensure consistency throughout testing procedures, education requirements and any necessary training requirements across all 50 states and 5 territories.   

In addition to reciprocity agreements, consortium states are also using shared data to examine best practice methods for background check requirements, apprenticeship programs, transferability of military skills, overcoming legislative obstacles and lessons learned approaches to occupational licensing barriers.”It is an opportunity for all states to learn from one another, as well as hopefully ease barriers in portability, all while advancing economic development,” Connecticut’s DOL Executive Director Kathleen Marioni said during a status meeting.

For the remainder of 2018, CSG, NGA and NCSL will visit each consortium state, providing technical assistance and best practice methodologies from other states. All 11 consortium states will meet in November of 2018 to review and share their progress with stakeholders.

Blue Star Families, Quality of Life and Spouse Employment

By Donna Counts

The 2016 Blue Star Families Military Lifestyle Survey summary was released in January 2017.  The Blue Star Survey is an annual snapshot of the state of military families and the largest nongovernmental survey of its kind and provides information needed to understand the wellbeing of military families, critical information since family and individual wellbeing is key to the success of the nation’s all-volunteer force.  According to the survey, just over half of all military personnel are married, while 36 percent are married with children.   Survey respondents indicated family quality of life is the top reason for leaving the service.  When asked about their top concerns, 37.9 percent of military spouses site their employment as a major concern.

Military service members and their families often have to move across state lines, and these moves can be difficult on military spouses as they try to maintain their own careers. More than one-third of military spouses are in an occupation that requires them to have a license, and licensing requirements are set at the state level with significant variation from state to state.

Frequent moves and unpredictable work schedules make it difficult for find a job and creates financial stress for the family.  The 2015 Demographics Report prepared by the Department of Defense, the latest report that is available, found that 79 percent of active duty spouses had moved across state lines or abroad in the past five years, and 27 percent of spouses reported that it took ten months or more to find employment after a move.  Perhaps not coincidentally the 2016 Blue Star Families report found that 79 percent of military spouses felt that military spouse status has a negative impact on their ability to pursue a career, and 63 percent of military spouses encountered licensing challenges due to relocation.  This difficulty is reflected in the 2016 unemployment rate for military spouses of 21percent compared to the 4.9 percent national unemployment rate. 

Significant obstacles for military spouses finding employment are state occupational licensing laws.  State licensure can disproportionately affect military families because military families tend to be more mobile.   Other segments of the workforce also face difficulty when moving from place to place due to occupational licensure.  Licensure can ensure that licensed professionals have the qualifications to meet quality, health and safety standards.  Licensure can also help to encourage a higher level of skill and professionalism which can translate into higher wages.  However, licensure can present obstacles to workers attempting to enter a profession by increasing the training requirements and associated costs or when workers move across state lines and have to comply with different state licensing requirements.  While licensure can increase individual wages, it can also increase the prices consumers pay for the services provided by the license professional.   

The problem for military spouses more prevalent in states with a high concentration of military personnel and families.  The following chart illustrates the state-by-state distribution of active duty military and families and the following table presents data on the peent of the workforce requires an occupational license.  California is the state with the highest military population with 324,666 and 20.7 percent of its workforce requires some sort of an occupational license.  Virginia has the second largest military population with 291,225, and 17.2 percent of its workforce requires an occupational license. 

There is little disagreement that licensure serves a needed purpose if the quality, health and safety standards are obvious.  In this case, policy best practices for establishing occupational licensing include standardizing the licensing requirements for occupations and encouraging inter-state compacts that recognize licenses from other states.  When the benefits to the public are less clear and licensure requirements create significant barriers to employment, then it may be time for state leaders and policymakers to re-evaluate the licensure requirements. 

Reading resources:

Blue Star Families. 2016 Annual Military Family Lifestyle Survey: Comprehensive Report. Falls Church, VA: Blue Star Families.

Department of Defense (DoD), Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy (ODASD (MC&FP), 2015 Demographics Profile of the Military Community, 

Department of Defense (DoD), Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC), Active Duty Spouses and Active Duty Members:  Spouse Employment, Satisfaction, Financial Health, Relationships, & Deployments, Results from 2015 Survey of Active Duty Spouses & 2013-2014 Status of Forces Surveys of Active Duty Members, July 2016.  

Spouse Employment Report, Institute for Veterans and Military Families, Syracuse University, February 2014.  

Council of State Governemnt, Capitol Ideas, Top 5 Issues in Workforce, 2017 Special Issue

Professional Licensing

By Audrey Wall

In an effort to contain costs while also providing better consumer service, government agencies throughout North America are developing business plans and restructuring professional and occupational regulatory agencies. Increased technology use is bringing new security problems along with enhanced access for all stakeholders. The professional licensing stakeholder community is expanding to include international regulators.

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About the Author
Pam Brinegar is the executive director of The Council on Licensure, Enforcement and Regulation (CLEAR), which provides educational programs for professional licensing officials. CLEAR is an affiliate of The Council of State Governments.