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

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.