News Release: Unicameral to debate workforce-related bill
NEWS RELEASE from the Platte Institute
Contact: Adam Weinberg
Bill reduces barriers to growing Nebraska’s workforce
Proposal combines jobs bills from Sens. McCollister & Briese
LINCOLN, NE — Today, the Nebraska Legislature will begin first-round debate on Sen. John McCollister’s Legislative Bill 709 and related amendments, which contains job licensing and workforce-related legislation impacting workers seeking to move to Nebraska from other states, veterans, and workers with criminal histories.
LB709, which is McCollister’s 2022 priority bill, provides workers with criminal histories more opportunities to access a license to work in Nebraska. The bill is also commonly called fair chance licensing, which prevents workers from being automatically denied a job license because of a past criminal record.
Instead, state licensing boards would only be able to immediately disqualify applicants who have felony convictions related to the profession or job duties being licensed, or other convictions that demonstrate a risk to public safety.
Under Nebraska’s Occupational Board Reform Act, licensing applicants with a criminal record can already pre-apply to a licensing board to determine their eligibility for licensing, though current restrictions may prevent people able to work from being approved.
LB709 would add provisions to that process allowing applicants to submit evidence of their rehabilitation, including the time that has elapsed since their conviction, completion of rehabilitation, training, or education programs, or career experience.
Licensing applicants with income up to 300% of the federal poverty line would also have their pre-application fee waived.
An amendment offered by the Legislature’s Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee would add provisions from Sen. Tom Briese‘s Legislative Bill 263 to LB709.
The amendment establishes universal recognition of occupational licensing and career experience workers bring to Nebraska from other states or from military occupational specialties. 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.
Universal recognition 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.
Nebraska licensing boards would also 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.
“Nebraska has a workforce shortage challenge. LB709 is an economic development and jobs bill that can help alleviate that by welcoming workers from all backgrounds, including former offenders looking to move on with their lives and contribute to the community,” Platte Institute Senior Fellow Laura Ebke said.
“It will also send a powerful message to those considering a move to Nebraska that we not only want them, but we want members of their family who hold job licenses,” Ebke said.
To schedule an interview on this topic or for more information, please contact Adam Weinberg at (402) 500-0209 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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