Legislative Testimony for LB834, Job Licensing Fee Waiver
Good afternoon Chairman Riepe 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 this opportunity to discuss occupational licensing reforms. I would like to thank Sen. Howard for introducing this bill.
In the 1950’s, 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 were initially created as a means of protecting the public from negligent and unqualified practitioners, but more and more, instead of protecting the public from harm, we now understand that occupational licensing is making it difficult for new workers 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 License to Work report revealed that it takes an average of 9 months of training, 1 exam and $203 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.
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.
It is not uncommon for one to enter into an occupation only to realize that it is not the occupation they are meant to be in throughout their working years. The Federal Trade Commission has stated that because of the time and cost involved, occupational licensing reduces opportunities, restricts employment and keeps individuals in jobs that may not be the best fit for them3.
LB834 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 supports waiving these first year fees or taxes on government permission slips to earn a paycheck.
The Platte Institute views LB834 as a win for workers, and it will help grow Nebraska’s economy. I ask that committee members advance LB834 to general file.