Legislative Testimony for LB112: Provide for waiver of certain occupational and licensing fees as prescribed
Good afternoon Chairwoman Howard and members of the HHS Committee. My name is Nicole Fox, and I am the Director of Government Relations for the Platte Institute. Thank you for the opportunity to testify. I would like to thank Sen. Howard for introducing this bill which the Platte Institute supports.
In the 1950s, 1 in 20 occupations in the country required a government permission slip, also known as an occupational license, to work. Fast forward to today, and now 1 in 3 occupations in the country require this government permission slip to work. This national trend holds true in Nebraska.
Occupational licensing laws for those original and most necessary 1 in 20 occupations were initially created with good intentions of protecting the public from negligent and unqualified practitioners. But as more occupations over the years have required individuals to obtain licenses, many Nebraskans now are subject to the unintended consequences of occupational licensing, making it difficult for them to enter the workforce.
102 occupations have been deemed low income by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Forty-five of those 102 occupations require licensure in Nebraska1. A low income occupation is defined as an occupation where the average income is less than half of the national average.
The Institute for Justice’s November 2018 “At What Cost?” occupational licensing report revealed that licensing laws require up to a year of education, at least 1 exam and $260 in fees to work in one of these 102 low income occupations1. Keep in mind that workers applying for these licenses may have experienced loss of income while obtaining needed training, may have had significant tuition costs, and in many cases, may also have to pay for continuing education to maintain that license.
The report also points out the following statistics related to Nebraska: 12.4% of workers are under the age of 25, 16.9% have a high school diploma or less and 18% have “some college.”
Occupational licensing greatly impacts military families. According to the Obama administration’s 2015 occupational licensing report, 35 percent of military spouses in the labor force work in professions that are regulated, and they are ten times more likely to have moved across state lines in the last year than their civilian counterparts2. These military spouses may have difficulty acquiring a new license each time they move. Given the fact that Nebraska is home to Offutt Air Force Base, we need to assure our occupational licensing requirements allow military spouses and veterans to readily enter our state’s workforce.
LB 112 waives first year licensing fees for occupations under the Uniform Credentialing Act for individuals who are identified as low income, part of a military family or a person between the ages of 18 and 25.
The Platte Institute views LB112 as a win for workers, and it will help grow Nebraska’s economy. I ask that committee members advance LB112 to general file.