News Release: Committee hears universal licensing recognition bill
NEWS RELEASE from the Platte Institute
Contact: Adam Weinberg
Mobile: (402) 500-0209
Legislative testimony for Feb. 3, 2021: LB263
Universal recognition can aid Nebraska workforce growth
LINCOLN, NE – Today, Platte Institute Senior Fellow Laura Ebke (photo) will testify in support of Sen. Tom Briese’s Legislative Bill 263 before the Nebraska Legislature’s Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee. Ebke’s written testimony is available at PlatteInstitute.org/Testimony. The hearing will be held in State Capitol room 1507 at 1:30 p.m. Central Time. A schedule of hearing livestreams is provided by NET Nebraska here.
LB263 establishes universal recognition of occupational licensing and career experience workers bring to Nebraska from other states. Applicants for recognition in Nebraska would be approved if they held a license in good standing for at least one year from another state. Workers from states without licensure requirements, or that only require private certification for a profession, would have to demonstrate at least three years of work experience. Nebraska licensing boards would still be able to require examination of the applicant, collect fees where allowed under law, and maintain other requirements for the practice of the licensed profession.
A document with answers to Frequently Asked Questions is available here in PDF format: Universal Recognition FAQ
The unemployment rate in Nebraska is low once again following last year’s recession, but not as many jobs and workers have returned to the state’s labor market, where employers consistently identify access to talent as a challenge. Bureau of Labor Statistics data from December showed 24,100 fewer Nebraskans are employed compared to before the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Nebraska has a workforce shortage challenge. LB263 is an economic development and jobs bill that can help alleviate that,” said Ebke.
“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.”
LB263 would not apply to professions in which Nebraska currently participates in an interstate licensing compact. Compacts are reciprocity agreements that require states to adopt similar licensing legislation. Recognition is more expansive than reciprocity, because it extends licensure to applicants whose out-of-state license or work experience allows a similar scope of practice, even if some of the requirements for licensure in the previous state differ from Nebraska.
The Legislature considered a similar universal recognition bill in the 106th Legislature. At that time, Arizona and Pennsylvania were the only states that had adopted the policy. Since then, Montana, Utah, New Jersey, Idaho, Iowa, and Missouri have also passed universal recognition laws, and at least 15 additional states, including Kansas and Wyoming, are considering recognition legislation this session.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf provided remarks to the Platte Institute’s Virtual Legislative Summit last year explaining their support for universal recognition as a tool for growing their states’ workforces and economies.
Since passing its law in late 2019, Arizona has granted 2,650 licenses under the program, including 875 licenses for contractors in skilled trades, more than 150 physicians, and 40 physician assistants, according to the Arizona-based Goldwater Institute.
Job licensing requirements can vary significantly from state to state, and Ebke and the Platte Institute have supported reforms that reduce barriers in Nebraska’s job licensing system since 2016. A nonpartisan group of reformers at the state and federal levels, bolstered by support from the Obama, Trump, and now Biden administrations, acknowledges licensing to be among the country’s most significant labor force issues. In the United States, roughly a quarter of workers need a state occupational license to get a job or start a business, which is a greater share of the workforce than union members or workers earning only the minimum wage.
As a former Nebraska state senator, Ebke was the introducer of the Occupational Board Reform Act, a state law that requires Nebraska’s legislative committees to review each job license under its purview at least once every five years. The reviews produce publicly-available reports about the implementation of each license and answers to questions about whether it would be possible to adopt less restrictive regulatory alternatives to licensure.
Currently, the Legislature has completed two of the first five years of the process, with a significant share of license reviews by the Health and Human Services Committee having been submitted in December 2020.
To schedule an interview with Laura Ebke on this topic, please contact Adam Weinberg at (402) 500-0209 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Platte Institute advances policies that remove barriers to growth and opportunity in Nebraska. More media resources are available at PlatteInstitute.org/Media.