Occupational Licensing

Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force: Policy Prescriptions to Address Economic and Health Care Challenges in the Face of COVID-19

The CIED Task Force presents possible policy suggestions to combat the COVID-19 crisis.

Model Interstate-Mobility and Universal-Recognition Occupational Licensing Act

In order to expedite the response to COVID-19, states and the federal government should reduce regulatory red tape. This includes reforming state occupational licensing requirements, and the ALEC model Interstate-Mobility and Universal-Recognition Occupational Licensing Act contains important provisions and principles for state officials to consider.

Occupational licensing recognition promotes geographic mobility by allowing people with licenses, private certifications and work experience to apply that experience to a license in a new state. Licensing recognition is particularly important during times of crisis, like the COVID-19 pandemic, because licensed professions may be disproportionately needed in a particular state and not others. By recognizing people’s experience, it allows workers that are trained and educated in a profession to work where they are most needed and not be limited by a new state’s license that has a similar scope of practice as the license they already have. States that are particularly hard hit by COVID-19 will want the flexibility of attracting healthcare workers from other states by easing the process of obtaining licensure in their state.

In response to COVID-19, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum issued an executive order temporarily dropping unique state licensure requirements, allowing professionals—particularly those in healthcare professions – to temporarily practice without North Dakota licensure if they are duly licensed in another state. Prior to the executive order, North Dakota had been working on professional licensure reciprocity, noting the success of the Arizona law. Other states that have eased occupational licensing restrictions on healthcare workers in response to COVID-19 via executive order include Maryland, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and several others.

Reducing Regulations on the Private Sector that Hinder Creation or Delivery of Essential Products

There are certain regulations that ought to be relaxed or removed in order to combat the impact of the virus. For example, federal regulations provide that commercial truck drivers be limited to 11 hours of driving time during a 14-hour work day. The goal is admirable: to reduce accidents caused by driver fatigue. However, due to shortages of groceries and other necessary supplies, such as medical equipment, after President Trump declared a national emergency, the Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration suspended the limitation on truck driver’s hours.

This comes on the heels of grocers and hospitals reporting a shortage of supplies. A reduction of red tape generally can make medical supplies such as tests for the virus, hospital beds, and respirators more readily available as the situation warrants. It can also provide for easier access to groceries and other essential items.

An Act to Establish a Cap on Government Red Tape & Establishing the Production of Economic Analysis in the State Legislature Act

Utilizing economic analysis, the legislature can perform cost benefit analysis on the effect of government regulations and expand the capacity for informed decision making. Burdensome government red tape not only decreases economic growth during times of economic expansion but interferes with the ability of the private sector to respond to crises, like the COVID-19 pandemic. Red tape reduction and economic analysis focuses the government to deal with these regulations sooner rather than later, so they are either not around during crises or are removed once identified. During the current COVID-19 pandemic, states are particularly attuned to these regulatory challenges like licensing burdens, certificate of need laws, and telehealth restrictions and can utilize red tape reduction initiatives and economic analysis to reform or get rid of the most harmful regulations.

Policy prescriptions developed by our members can be found in ALEC Connect.