NCSL’s Occupational Licensing Project Releases Report on Lessons Learned from Four-Year Study


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Media Alert

Dec. 7, 2020


National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL)

Mick Bullock, NCSL Public Affairs Director   

The Council of Governments (CSG)

Kelly Arnold, CSG Chief Communications Officer

National Governors Association (NGA)

James Nash, Press Secretary


Denver—Since 2017, more than 3,500 occupational licensing bills were introduced across the country. Of these, 176 bills sought to ease barriers for people with a criminal record, while 120 bills focused on military veterans and spouses. The findings are part of a new report aimed at providing state policy options and examples on occupational licensing.

The report, “Occupational Licensing: Assessing State Policies and Practices Final Report,” is the result of a joint four-year partnership between The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the The Council of State Governments (CSG). The partner organizations have produced a number of related resources over the course of the project, designed to help state policymakers better understand the variances in licensing laws and the challenges they present.

Funded by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), the report outlines that, while meant to protect consumer health and safety, occupations requiring government permission to work have created a number of discrepancies across state lines which disproportionately affect certain population groups.

This occupational licensing report summarizes the projects in three focus areas:

  1. Legislative
  • Tracks legislation in all 50 states categorizing them into 16 topic areas and 34 occupations.
  1. Executive and regulatory trends
  • Tracks occupational licensing priorities, review of licensing systems, and temporary lifting of licensing requirements.
  1. Lessons learned throughout the project
  • Tracks and studies successful strategies as well as challenges.

The complete series on the occupational licensing project can be found at

NCSL is a bipartisan organization that serves the legislators and staffs of the states, commonwealths and territories. It provides research, technical assistance and opportunities for policymakers to exchange ideas on the most pressing state issues and is an effective and respected advocate for the interests of the states in the American federal system.