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license will not be considered for recognition if the license has been expired for more than two years; the license has been revoked for disciplinary reasons or is otherwise not in good standing; or if the applicant demonstrates a substantive deficiency in training, education or experience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

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.

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.

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.

North Carolina Looks To Ease Occupational Licensure Requirements For Military Families

The North Carolina Senate unanimously passed SB-8 on March 15th which eases occupational licensure burdens on veterans by allowing military members and their spouses to practice their profession with a license from another state while transitioning to the requirements of North Carolina. The bill, sponsored by Senators Andy Wells, Harry Brown, and Louis Pate, is a positive step towards helping military families working jobs that may require a license.

Recognizing professional licenses issued by other states relieves some of the burden put on military families who relocate regularly. Rather than being put out of work while getting re-licensed in a new state, families can continue working while they move towards satisfying qualification requirements for licensure in North Carolina.

The bill only applies to military members and spouses who have performed the occupation in another state where the requirements are “substantially equivalent” to North Carolina’s. Qualifying participants receive a temporary practice permit that is valid for one year. Military families are also no longer required to pay the application fee for licensure if one is typically required in the field in which they work.

Research suggests relicensing policies impose a considerable cost of time and money on workers looking for jobs in another state. Variations in state licensing laws cause military families difficulties while pursuing their careers as they move between states.

CSG executives signed a resolution late last year supporting intergovernmental collaboration on occupational licensing for military spouses. The resolution reports that thirty-five percent of military spouses work in occupations that require a professional license including teaching, childcare services, and nursing. Additionally, sixty-eight percent of married veterans report their spouse’s ability to maintain a career impacted their decision to remain in the military by a large or moderate extent.

CSG recently won a $7.5 million dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to guide a group of 10 states in improving licensure portability across state borders. The action plan prioritizes military families as a part of the targeted population in need of greater licensure opportunities.

Relieving financial and administrative burdens on these families who sacrifice for the sake of our country is a small way of repaying them for their service. State and local governments who streamline occupational licensing opportunities will ease the transition for military members and their spouses to move across state lines.

North Carolina’s SB-8 is currently working its way through House Standing Committees, but is receiving bipartisan support, and sponsors anticipate it becoming a law in the upcoming weeks. 

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