According to Bryan Slone, president of the Nebraska Chamber, prior to the pandemic, the state was facing a shortage of 30,000 to 50,000 jobs open at any given time because employers were not able to fill them with the qualified workers they needed.
Piecemeal job licensing changes advance in Nebraska’s 2021 session
The Platte Institute follows the action on most occupational licensing bills moving through the Legislature, as well as legislation introduced in other states. Since we’re just past half-way through the 90-day legislative session, a progress report seems in order.
Sen. Rita Sanders’ LB389, introduced at the request of the governor, is moving through the Legislature and seems certain to pass on final reading in the near future. The Platte Institute testified in support of this bill, and while it is a relatively small bill in the occupational licensing world, it is a net positive for reform. It would require the issuance of teaching certificates and permits to military spouses who are licensed or permitted in another state, making it easier for military spouses to find work.
Another bill introduced at the request of the governor, LB390 carried by Sen. Dave Murman, has moved out of committee on a 7-0 vote and seems likely to move through the process, as well. We testified in favor of this bill, which would extend the universal recognition of licensing for some health-care related professions. This is an effort to make permanent the governor’s executive orders regarding licensing of health care workers during the pandemic’s ramp up last year. As with LB389, this is a narrow expansion of universal recognition to a small segment of licensed workers, but it is an effort we supported.
Our main focus for the year has been on LB263, introduced by Sen. Tom Briese. This bill–if enacted–would overlay the ground plowed by both LB389 and LB390, and grant universal recognition for all but a very few licensed occupations (those occupations being primarily in financial services and insurance areas which have significant federal regulatory oversight). Unfortunately, LB263 is still stuck in the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee.
We told the story a few weeks ago about Mike Beyer, a young U.S. Navy veteran who returned to his hometown of Bridgeport, hoping to be able to test for his journeyman electrician license, based on the eight years of experience and apprenticeship that he had in the Navy, only to be told that he could only get one year of credit towards his licensing experience. LB263 would change that, and allow licensing boards to look at the experience that someone had while in the military when licensing them to practice that same occupation in Nebraska.
Likewise, the Nebraska Chamber points out that workforce availability is a serious issue in Nebraska:
While Slone said that number could be lower coming out of the pandemic, he added, “but not much.”
“If you went to a manufacturer today and asked them what their No. 1 problem is, they would still tell you it’s population and workforce and finding the workers to be able to drive our economy,” he said.
While passing time and a lack of a priority designation suggests that the chance of LB263 passing this year has been diminished, we encourage those who believe that highly skilled workers–no matter whether they come from another state or have a military occupational specialty (MOS)–to call or write their senators and even more important, contact those on the Government Committee, to urge movement of this bill as soon as possible. Even if it’s not debated this year, the movement to General File now could allow LB263 to be debated early in 2022, or to receive priority designation in the short session, if need be.