Legislative Testimony for LB263: Universal recognition of job licensing
Chairman Brewer and members of the committee, my name is Laura Ebke. I am the Senior Fellow at the Platte Institute, and I am happy to be here today to testify in favor of LB263 and thank Senator Briese for introducing it.
In 2018, Nebraska was the first state to pass a comprehensive occupational licensing bill—LB299, now known as the Occupational Board Reform Act. That bill was recognized nationwide as the “one to beat”—requiring the legislative committees to regularly review ALL occupational licensing to determine whether the regulations were still needed, whether they were achieving their goals, and whether changes were needed. Most of your committees finished their second round of reviews during this past interim period.
The Occupational Board Reform Act built on the principle found in the earlier Uniform Credentialing Act applied to health-related occupations. It stated that the State of Nebraska’s policy uses the least restrictive regulation of occupations possible.
Since the passage of LB299, several states have introduced and passed legislation similar to ours—including Ohio, whose legislation would automatically sunset any license that was not reviewed as part of their six-year rotation.
More recently, states have been looking at ways to ease licensure for those who are already working in occupations in other jurisdictions. The idea is that someone who can give a good haircut in Nebraska can probably give a good haircut in Arizona (and vice versa). To that end, bills have been introduced nationwide to provide licensure both broadly and specifically to those in the military or their spouses.
In 2019, Arizona became the first state to pass the so-called Universal Recognition, similar to what you find in the legislation before you in LB263. Arizona’s Governor Ducey declared Arizona “open for business” as a result. Since then, the states of Pennsylvania, Montana, Utah, New Jersey, Idaho, and our neighboring states of Iowa and Missouri have passed broad universal recognition.
As the Governor made note of last week, Nebraska has a workforce shortage challenge. LB263 is an economic development and jobs bill that can help alleviate that. It will send a powerful message to those considering a move that we not only want them, but we want members of their family who hold job licenses. It will let them know that we respect and honor the training and experience that they’ve had in other states in their chosen occupation and that they can continue their work here. Universal recognition works. The evidence in Arizona demonstrates that it serves to bring people from licensed fields into the workforce, with over 2,600 new licensees added in Arizona in just over a year.
I would note that we support the amendment that Senator Briese has suggested, which flows from conversations with those who have contacted his office. Universal recognition is designed to keep people from needing to start over with new education or training when they have a record of qualifications in another state—it does not prohibit the state from having non-credential related requirements, such as criminal background checks. It does not supersede any conditions that some occupations might have to comply with federal law.
Some will argue that universal recognition will result in a watering down of our standards. That implies that those working in occupations in Nebraska are uniquely qualified to be psychologists, geologists, barbers, cosmetologists, electricians or plumbers, and that those in other states are somehow dangerous. I think it clear that this is not the case—we all travel across state lines for trips and don’t worry about the quality of the roads, or that the hotels we stay in will crumble because the licensing for a construction trade is different in that state than in Nebraska.
Nebraska is one of at least 15 states seeking to follow Arizona’s lead this year—including our neighbors in Kansas and Wyoming. I encourage you to advance LB263—as amended—to General File.
I’d be happy to entertain your questions.