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Oversight and deregulation continue as national themes in state legislatures

Throughout 2019, key trends in state legislatures were to open licensure to groups formerly excluded such as people with a criminal record, end the use of student debt to deny a license, join more interstate compacts, bolster sunrise and sunset programs, and adopt several other new mechanisms to deregulate occupational licensing on the premise that much of it reduces competition, restricts worker mobility, and raises costs to consumers.

All states introduced at least one bill on occupational licensing, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Of 1,229 bills considered nationally, 449 were enacted—many concerned with oversight and operation of state licensing boards and paring down the number of boards through sunrise and sunset bills. The new laws include measures that:

  • Prohibit licensing boards from hiring lobbyists to influence state policymakers on behalf of the board (West Virginia).
  • Allow “universal reciprocity” for many licensed occupations so that residents with other states’ licenses can practice there (Arizona and Pennsylvania).
  • Prevent licensing boards from automatically rejecting applicants due to their criminal history alone (Alabama, Maryland, Illinois, and several other states).
  • Prohibit licensing boards from revoking an occupational license based on student loan status (Louisiana).
  •  Join interstate licensure compacts to accept all states’ licenses (physical therapy and advanced nurse licensure, among others).