By Iris Hentze
Ohio Governor John Kasich signed SB 255 to reform a variety of the state’s current occupational licensing laws in what is one of the most comprehensive reform efforts of the laws to-date.
The legislation, sponsored by Senator Rob McColley (R) and Representative Ron Hood (R) and signed last month, combines two practices commonly considered to be promising in regulating professions.
First, the legislation implements a mandatory sunset review process of all licensing boards in the state. Every six years, any entity with “licensing authority” in the state, including licensure boards as well as any political subdivision that issue licenses, will now potentially expire. To keep a licensing entity operating, legislation will need to be passed to renew its authority.
This process for renewal provides board members, as well as the public, a chance to make their case for continuation. The Senate Sunset committee reviews the testimony and any relevant documentation to evaluate the usefulness, performance and effectiveness of the licensing authority and consider if the entity should be authorized to continue to operate.
The implementation of sunrise and sunset processes to ensure the continued relevance of government function is nothing new in the states.
A sunset review takes place after legislation is enacted to review the product of that legislation for continued relevancy, while a sunrise review occurs before legislation is enacted, to evaluate the proposed legislation for potential impacts, costs and benefits.
Colorado and Texas have had robust sunset processes in operation since 1976 and 1977, respectively, while Arizona has employed a sunrise process since 1985 and Vermont since 1989. With the signing of SB 255, Ohio becomes the most recent state to pursue a regular sunset process with the burden of occupational licensing related regulation in mind.
In addition to implementing the sunset regulatory review process, SB 255 also works to tackle the problem of collateral consequences that can be faced by an individual previously convicted of a crime when they are seeking licensure.
Occupational licensing requirements can restrict access to employment for an individual with a criminal record through a variety of means, including blanket bans on awarding licenses to those with a criminal history and the enforcement of so-called “good moral character” clauses which allow licensure boards to broadly interpret who they consider to have “good moral character” and who they do not.
SB 255 gives those convicted of any criminal offense the ability to request a licensing authority determine whether their criminal conviction disqualifies them from obtaining a license. This process is called predetermination. Additionally, the licensing entity can’t charge more than $25 nor take longer than 30 days to provide the requested information.
The bill also requires licensing authorities to make available on their website a list of all criminal convictions that can disqualify an individual from obtaining a license. One example of another state with a similar policy, referred to as predetermination, is Arizona, which passed SB 1436 in 2018. SB 1436 allows a person with a criminal record to seek predetermination as to whether their criminal record may disqualify them from licensure.
Find more information on occupational licensing.
Iris Hentze is a policy associate in NCSL’s Employment, Labor and Retirement Program.