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.

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.

New Occupational Licensing Analysis Opposes Traditional Theory

A commonly cited argument for occupational licensing reform states that licensing results in restricted employment growth and higher wages for licensed workers, which in turn increases consumer costs. Higher wages benefit licensed workers, but wage disparity leads to inefficiency and unfairness, including reducing employment opportunities and depressing wages for excluded workers.

However, CSG’s analysis of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) finds no evidence that licensing has any effect at all on wages and employment growth for electricians and massage therapists. Using original CSG time-series licensing data along with occupational employment data from BLS’ Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program, this analysis compares wage trends before and after licensure, to a control state that does not license the occupation at all. Plotting wages for the licensed state and the control state, with hourly median wages on the vertical axis and year on the horizontal axis, while drawing a vertical line at the year of initial licensure shows any potential licensing effect. Deviations from wage trends prior to licensure can be attributed to licensing if the effect is similar across several state comparisons.

(SEE ATTACHMENT FOR PLOTTED DATA)

When comparing the time series data plotted for licensed and non-licensed states, there is no evidence that these occupations becoming licensed has an effect on wages and employment. The result is most convincing for electricians. When looking at the plotted time series data, the trend lines barely changes at all upon initial licensure. If a licensing effect did exist, we would expect the line to trend upward for wages and downward for employment after a state licenses electricians.  However, when comparing with the control states that do not license, the trend lines hardly deviates at all upon initial licensure. This result is consistent across all three sets of state comparisons.

The result seems to hold even for an occupation within an entirely different industry. The trend lines for massage therapists are more erratic, but still do not seem to support a possible licensing effect. There must be other effects at work causing the wage and employment lines to shift, but these shifts do not occur in sync with the treatment state adopting a license requirement.

If most economists agree with the assumption that occupational licensing increases wages for licensed workers and decreases what are some possible explanations for this result? It may be the case that a licensing effect takes many years to be seen. The increase in wages and decrease in employment growth could be a slow, gradual process over the course of many years that eventually restricts entrants into the profession, but does not do so initially.

Secondly perhaps the licensing requirements adopted are not severe enough to deter an aspiring practitioner from entering the occupation.

Electricians

StatesExperienceNo. Of
Exams
Length of
Renewal
Continuing
Education
Initial
Cost
Renewal
Cost
Iowa16000, h13187575
Kentucky4, y11615050
Massachusetts8000, h1345330104

Massage Therapists

StatesTraining
Hours
No. Of
Exams
Length of
Renewal
Continuing
Education
Initial
Cost
Renewal
Cost
Illinois600124837087.5
Michigan5001354290115
Nebraska10001224322127

The above tables from CSG, NCSL, and NGA’s Occupational Licensing Database outline the licensing requirements for electricians and massage therapist in each treatment state where a license was adopted. Based on previous literature, if a licensing effect did exist for these occupations, you would expect the effect to be even more noticeable in the graphs for Nebraska and Iowa. The training and experience requirements for these two states are double the requirements for the other states who also recently adopted a license, yet the trend lines do not suggest that a more severe licensing effect exists.

This result is important to policy makers who are looking for new ways to grow their state’s economy. Occupational licensing reform has been a workforce priority of the two most recent presidential administrations with President Obama’s administration releasing a 76-page policy framework for state officials, and the Trump administration awarding large grants to enhance state occupational licensing portability of which CSG was a co-recipient.

Enhancing portability of state licensing and creating more a more equitable system for vulnerable populations like veterans and military families, people with criminal records, immigrants, and long-term unemployed workers is a crucial need. However, it is not clear from this evidence that deregulation will have the economic impacts that some believe.

If the result of a state adopting a license for certain occupations is negligible for these economic indicators, perhaps policymakers should focus their efforts on things other than deregulation when figuring out how to grow their state economies. Some argue that removing these licensing barriers will result in an influx of new practitioners into the occupation which will stimulate job growth. The evidence from CSG’s analysis does not show that this would be the case. If an occupation becoming licensed does not affect wages or employment, then deregulating an occupation likely won’t affect these outcomes either.

Plotted BLS Data

Utah Legislation to Reduce Occupational Licensing Barriers

By Ray Williams

Utah’s Department of Commerce issued a 2018 legislative brief that includes a comprehensive and proactive approach to reducing occupational licensing constraints and barriers. Utah is part of CSG’s occupational licensing project, which includes an 11-state consortium that includes Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Nevada, Utah and Wisconsin.

CSG started the occupational licensure project in partnership with the National Conference of State Legislatures and the National Governors Association. Project funding is supported through a $7.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, or DOL. The DOL project scope focuses on target populations of military spouses and children, immigrants with work authorization, people with criminal records, and unemployed and dislocated workers.

Each state selected their choice of occupational licensure focus from the DOL’s list of 34 target occupations and drafted an action plan detailing their overall strategies in achieving project performance goals. The DOL’s projects goals are:

  • To improve their understanding of occupational licensure issues and best practices
  • To examine existing licensing policies in their state
  • To identify current policies that create unnecessary barriers to labor market entry
  • To create an action plan that focuses on removing barriers to labor market entry and improves portability and reciprocity for select occupations

The Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing, or DOPL, is in a continuous effort to minimize unnecessary regulation while promoting public safety and commerce. The 2018 general session passed several laws detailing their accomplishment of both DOL project goals and their own mission.

Military Families

H.B. 170 Licensing Fee Waiver Amendments

License fee waivers for full-time active duty service members of the U.S. Armed Forces, National Guard and Reserve.

S.B. 227 Licensing Standards for Military Spouses

Expands exemption from licensure for military spouses to include all licensed professions within the state.

S.B. 60 License Hold for Military Service

Authorizes fee waivers associated with renewal of an inactive license for members of the U.S. Armed Forces, National Guard and Reserve.

Reducing Regulation

H.B. 37 Occupational and Professional Licensing Amendments

Modifies and reduces required training, exams, experience and hours of training for various occupations with minimal impact on public safety; removes nonviolent felony restriction for nursing professionals to a case by case basis.

H.B. 310 Professional Licensing Amendments

Reduces licensing fees for contractors and repeals the Lien Recovery Fund leaving the State Construction Registry Program as a single point for oversight of lien law.

H.B. 63 Cosmetology an Associated Professions Amendment

Allows required exams to be administered in applicant’s native language.

S.B. 15 Environmental Health Scientists Act Amendments

Allows nonaccredited programs to qualify for education requirements when both programs are substantially equivalent.

S.B. 197 Private Security Amendments

Significantly reduces required training and education for licensing.

H.B. 200 Dentists Licensing Amendments

Removes artificial barriers and expands the list of regional dental clinical license exams accepted.

Facilitating Worker Mobility

H.B. 37 Occupational and Professional Licensing Amendments

Modifies language to allow for expanded implementation of multistate licensure compacts.

H.B. 173 Occupational Licensing Requirement Amendments

Expands licensure endorsement requirements to create a pathway for work experience minimums and competency requirements.

Transparency and Public Accountability

S.B. 223 Utah Health Care Malpractice Act Amendments

Requires DOPL to compile and study information related to medical liability to ensure intent of act for both patients and providers.

H.B. 37 Occupational and Professional Licensing Amendments

Reduces required licenses for membership of the Hunting Guides and Outfitters Licensing Board.

States Address Barriers to Occupational Licensure for Individuals with Criminal Records

By Ray Williams

The Council of State Governments Justice Center is providing in-depth analysis to help 11 states achieve their occupational licensure goals. CSG launched the occupational licensure project in partnership with the Department of Labor, or DOL, the National Conference of State Legislatures and the National Governors Association. The DOL scope includes assessing potential barriers to obtaining specific occupational licenses for target populations in 11 consortium states, including military spouses and children, immigrants with work authorizations, people with criminal records, and unemployed and displaced workers.

The initial data included occupational licensing requirements for all 50 states relative to education and training requirements, exam requirements, renewal processes, associated fees, reciprocity agreements and ex-offender restrictions. The consortium states are now requesting more information so they can analyze underlying cause and effect relationships within their current regulations and statues, as well as conduct comparative analysis of other states. CSG Justice Center is providing enhanced reports to the consortium, with additional information on background check requirements and restrictions, through the National Inventory of Collateral Consequences of Conviction project.

The National Inventory of Collateral Consequences, or NICCC, is supported by a grant from the Department of Justice, or DOJ, Office of Justice Programs, and currently catalogs over 45,000 statutory and regulatory provisions that limit the rights, benefits and opportunities available to individuals with criminal records. Among those, 15,000 provisions limit an individual’s ability to obtain occupational licensure or impair licenses already held through suspension, revocation or other means. That data is used to analyze and distinguish the collateral consequences affecting current and prospective licensees, particularly relationships between types of offenses, and the scope and duration of license ineligibility or impairment. Broad restrictions that offer little chance for employment after conviction can often discourage rehabilitation and increase recidivism.

“Of those 15,000 licensing consequences, over 6,000 are mandatory, meaning boards have no discretion to grant a license or forgo suspension, revocation or other impairments when an individual has a disqualifying conviction,” Josh Gaines, a CSG Justice Center senior policy analyst said.

The enhanced reports provided through the NICCC include data on background checks for occupational licenses, linking all 50 states to their applicable laws, statutes and regulations. The database provides enhanced search features for collateral consequence and offense type, allowing the consortium states to examine specific statutes and their collateral consequence on occupational licensing. This data allows states to compare current provisions of law and their potential outcome on licensing barriers.

Additionally, the DOJ and DOL have partnered with CSG Justice Center to fund the Clean Slate Clearinghouse, or CSC. The CSC links individuals with criminal records to legal resources and support services for record clearance, and provides states with record clearing policies for comparative best practice methods. Criminal record clearance is a process in which individuals can have their records expunged, sealed, restricted or closed, aiding in both employment and housing opportunities.  

Most occupational licensing restrictions are in place to protect public safety and provide a legitimate regulatory function. The NICCC further examines these restrictions that apply to any crime without regard to the type of crime, the lapse of time after conviction, or the rehabilitation efforts. The NICCC project provides data for legislatures and licensing boards.

The NICCC data is focused on one of the DOL’s target populations and is a vital tool for consortium states as they continue to examine occupational licensing barriers.

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.

Occupational Licensure Technical Assistance Available to States

Occupational Licensure Technical Assistance Available to States
Tuesday, July 18, 2 p.m. EDT
FREE CSG eCademy webinar 

The Council of State Governments has announced a new technical assistance project called Occupational Licensing: Assessing State Policy and Practice for state leaders. Through this policy learning consortium, selected states will receive assistance to 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 select occupations. Technical assistance will be provided through a partnership of The Council of State Governments, the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the National Conference of State Legislatures, with support from the U.S. Department of Labor. The deadline for submitting applications is Monday, Aug. 21 by 5 p.m. ET. Only one application can be submitted per state, which necessitates that state officials coordinate to provide a single application.

Download a PDF of the presentation slides.