The NCSL Blog


By Albert Downs

The results are in and 11 states have been selected to participate in the National Occupational Licensing Learning Consortium.

Worker holding hard hat The following states will convene this December to begin their work on this vital policy issue, with the support of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA), and The Council of State Governments (CSG):

  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Kentucky
  • Maryland
  • Nevada
  • Utah
  • Wisconsin

A growing body of economic research has shown that occupational licensing—government approval to work in a specific field—may not effectively increase consumer safety and instead serves as a significant barrier to employment for many Americans.

The licensing of occupations by state governments has increased dramatically over the past few decades. The accelerating diffusion of licensing requirements around the country has created additional challenges for certain populations to enter the job market, including veterans and military families, immigrants with work authorization, individuals with a criminal history, and Americans who have been out of the labor market for an extended period of time.

With the support of NCSL, NGA and CSG, the 11 consortium states will engage with experts in the areas of occupational regulation, workforce development and populations with challenges, and develop an action plan focused on reducing unnecessary barriers to the labor market.

Several states selected for the consortium have a history of engaging on this issue. Since 2012, Wisconsin has offered fee waivers to veterans and members of military families seeking to become licensed after moving from a state where they already held a license. Last year, Illinois enacted licensing reforms aimed at allowing ex-offenders to avoid recidivism through employment. In March of this year, Utah expanded the oversight powers of its legislative committee dedicated to occupational licensing, creating the opportunity for a broader discussion of how the public interest can best be served. Other members have taken recent action, as well.

Each member of the consortium will provide valuable insight to other members about their work on occupational licensing policy, furthering the shared understanding of best practices while fostering the opportunity for joint action that could increase the portability of certain licenses across state lines. Even among consortium members with a long track record of work on licensing policy, the collaboration with other states and a dedicated panel of experts will undoubtedly illuminate a host of new policy angles and options. Moreover, the broad scope of resources afforded to each consortium member by NCSL, NGA, and CSG, will facilitate a more effective execution of their desired policy outcomes than could be accomplished alone.

With the consortium’s membership established, licensing policy watchers can now look forward to the release of new reports juxtaposing the varying landscapes of occupational licensing policy across these diverse states.

Albert Downs is a policy specialist in NCSL's Employment, Labor and Retirement program.

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About the NCSL Blog

This blog offers updates on the National Conference of State Legislatures' research and training, the latest on federalism and the state legislative institution, and posts about state legislators and legislative staff. The blog is edited by NCSL staff and written primarily by NCSL's experts on public policy and the state legislative institution.