Testimony for LB1187: Change provisions relating to the Occupational Board Reform Act

Testimony for LB1187: Change provisions relating to the Occupational Board Reform Act

Chairman Brewer and members of the committee, my name is Laura Ebke. I am the Senior Fellow for Job Licensing at the Platte Institute, and I am happy to be here today to testify in favor of LB1187 and thank Senator La Grone for introducing it.

In 2018, Nebraska was the first state to pass a comprehensive occupational licensing bill—LB299, now know as the Occupational Board Reform Act. That bill was recognized nationwide as the “one to beat”—requring committees of the Legislature to regularly review ALL occupational licensing to determine whether the regulations were still needed, whether they were achieving their goals, and whether changes were needed. Many of your committees completed their first round of reviews in December.

The Occupational Board Reform Act built on the principle found in the earlier Uniform Credentialing Act which applied to health-related occupations, and stated that the policy of State of Nebraska is to use the least restrictive regulation of occupations possible. 

Since passage of LB299, a number of states have introduced and passed legislation similar to ours—including Ohio, whose legislation would automatically sunset any license that was not reviewed as part of their six-year rotation.

More recently, states have been looking at ways to ease licensure for those who are already working in occupations elsewhere, to qualify for licensure in their states without inordinate difficulty—the idea being, for instance, that someone who can give a good haircut in Nebraska, can probably give a good haircut in Arizona. To that end, bills have been introduced around the country to provide licensure both broadly and specifically to those in the military and their spouses.

Last year, Arizona became the first state to pass so-called Universal Recognition, such as that which LB1187 would add to the Occupational Board Reform Act. Arizona’s Governor Ducey declared Arizona “open for business” as a result.

I would note that we support the amendments that Senator La Grone has suggested, which flow from conversations with those who have contacted his office. The exclusion of law enforcement licensing via the Crime Commission is consistent with the exclusion of that profession in other states, and the requirement for bonding or insurance—when required for licensure in Nebraska—is certainly reasonable. Universal recognition is designed to keep people from having to start over with new education or training when they have a record of qualifications in another state—it does not prohibit the state from having non-credential related requirements.

Some will argue that universal recognition will result in a watering down of our standards. That implies that those working in occupations in Nebraska are uniquely qualified to be psychologists, geologists, barbers, cosmetologists, electricians or plumbers, and that those in other states are somehow in danger. I think it clear that this is not the case. This fear, in most occupations, more likely points to the random nature of occupational licenses from state to state, and a desire to keep those who might compete, out.

Nebraska is one of at least 15 states who are seeking to follow the lead of Arizona this year—including our neighbors in Iowa, Kansas and Missouri. I encourage you to advance LB1187—as amended—to General File.

I’d be happy to entertain your questions.

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