Legislative Testimony for LB390: Provide for credentials based on reciprocity and change requirements for credentials under the Uniform Credentialing Act

Legislative Testimony for LB390: Provide for credentials based on reciprocity and change requirements for credentials under the Uniform Credentialing Act

Chairman Arch and members of the committee, my name is Laura Ebke. I am the Senior Fellow at the Platte Institute. I am happy to be here today to testify in general support of LB390, as introduced, and thank Senator Murman for introducing it.

For over four years, the Platte Institute has been working to reduce barriers to work through occupational licensing reform efforts. Since January of 2019, I have spent a lot of time looking at occupational licensing trends around the country. The Platte Institute has made occupational licensing reform one of our top priorities since 2018, and we’ve worked with legislators and think tanks in about a dozen states—in varying capacities—to help them move in a direction that reduces barriers in their states.

The effort to reform occupational licensing is a nationwide one—initiated by the Obama Administration report that emphasized barriers to opportunity, recommending that states consider significant licensing reform, and continued through the Trump Administration. Unlike many policy movements, occupational licensing reform truly crosses political and ideological lines.

There have been several streams of reform efforts, and I’d like to put LB390 into the appropriate context.

One stream has included efforts to review licensing. Like Nebraska’s 2018 law (LB299), some of those bills call for regular review of existing licensing to determine whether the least restrictive regulations are being used. Other states have applied that review process to sunrise efforts—akin to our Uniform Credentialing Act 407 process—before new licensing is created or greater regulation is imposed, a needs analysis is undertaken.

Another current of reform has been “recognition” or “reciprocity” efforts. Some states—including our neighboring states of Iowa and Missouri—have created broad “universal recognition,” allowing licensing boards to accept licenses in good standing from other states as sufficient for licensure in their state. In those two states to our east, that recognition includes just about every profession licensed by the state.

Several sub-streams flow from the broad universal recognition efforts. Some states have chosen to provide universal recognition for military spouses—for all occupations. There is a bill that is close to passage in the Wyoming legislature that does that.

The emergency measures resulting from the pandemic included licensing-related orders by governors, which allowed for licensing of health care professionals from out of state to assure that states had adequate providers. We applauded those measures when Governor Ricketts issued those orders here in Nebraska and believed they were prudent. We also promoted the idea that those licensing changes should be made permanent.

LB390, as introduced, is a good effort and attempts to make those changes permanent. Still, as we move out of the pandemic, we think there is a better approach to licensing reform that legislators should consider. This bill alone is limited in its application to one industry already heavily covered by interstate compacts and national tests as the basis for state licensing. If an occupation can’t bill health insurance for payment for services, it’s likely not included under this bill’s provisions.

Our preferred method for expanding Nebraska’s workforce would be more bold and all-encompassing, applying to virtually all occupations where licensure is required. It would include military spouses or other accompanying family members and those with Military Occupational Specialties (MOS) who are leaving military service and deciding where to settle.

That said, LB390 is not—even with the proposed amendment– in conflict with our preferred occupational licensing bill this year—LB263, which does those things.  Therefore, I encourage your favorable consideration of LB390.

I’ll be happy to entertain any questions you might have.

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