The NCSL Blog

By Zach Herman

Ryan Nunn NCSL Occupational Licensing ConsortiumThe mobility and portability of licenses, bipartisan reform and special populations were just some of the points of discussion during the second annual Occupational Licensing Learning Consortium.

The meeting, held Nov. 28-30, 2018, in Clearwater, Fla., brought together nearly 200 state lawmakers and legislative staff, governors’ staff and agency and department heads, industry association representatives, occupational licensing board members, economists and researchers. It was presented by NCSL’s Employment, Labor and Retirement Program in partnership with the National Governors Association and The Council of State Governments.  

Thanks to new funding from the U.S. Department of Labor, 15 states were represented—with four states added to the original 11 teams that attended last year’s meeting. The states in attendance included Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, New Hampshire, Nevada, North Dakota, Utah, Vermont and Wisconsin. 

During the two-and-a-half-day meeting, attendees experienced a mix of workshops and panels led by experts, as well as facilitated state time where teams worked on and developed an action plan for occupational licensing in their states. 

Speaker Ryan Nunn, policy director for the Hamilton Project at Brookings, made big-picture connections between occupational licensing and the economy at large and discussed ways to improve labor and market dynamism in the economy through licensing reform. His talk also focused on how occupational licensing connects to the future of work in the country. 

Two sessions focused on mobility and the portability of licenses—a big issue many consortium states are trying to address. Panelists from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, National Council of State Boards of Nursing, National Council of Architectural Registration Boards and the Federation of Associations of Regularity Boards spoke about the promising portability practices their professions use so that individuals with those licenses can practice their professions across state lines. 

Other sessions of note:

  • Legislators from Nebraska joined the meeting to discuss a bipartisan movement in their state around regulatory reform. 
  • Eight breakout sessions allowed for some deep dives into special populations and hot topics regarding occupational licensing. Special populations talks focused on veterans and military spouses, dislocated and long-term unemployed workers, immigrants with work authorization and people with criminal records. 
  • Hot topics sessions covered interstate portability, an update on the NC Dental v. FCC Supreme Court case, how to message the work to stakeholders, promising sunrise and sunset legislative practices and data infrastructures.  

States had the opportunity to hear from each other on successes from the previous year. These included passage of many pieces of legislation, the creation of task forces, the centralizing and collection of data, and new partnerships with other government organizations such as the U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. Department of Justice. They also shared some of their challenges with the sustainability of reform efforts and planning for transitions among key legislators and gubernatorial staff.  

Zach Herman is a research analyst in the NCSL Employment, Labor & Retirement Program.

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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.