12 states have now passed universal occupational licensing bills

Mississippi just became the latest state to pass a universal occupational licensing bill. This means 12 states have now enacted such laws recognizing licenses from outside which will make it easier and less burdensome for people to move and work in such states.

The benefits of enacting such a bill should be self evident, as this report illustrates.

Several new state laws take effect on July 1. One of those will make it easier for folks moving to Mississippi to transfer their occupational license.

Wendy Swart worked in the same salon in Pennsylvania for 24 years. She was nervous about moving to Mississippi but expected to continue her career upon arriving.

“I worked hard to get my license and to keep it for 30 years,” explained Swart.

But she was told she didn’t have what it took to get a cosmetology license in the magnolia state.

“The hours for schooling down here were, I think it was 300 more hours than what Pennsylvania required,” she said. “But I have my instructor license. I went back to school for my instructor. So, between my hairdresser license and instructor, it’s actually more hours than what Mississippi required, but they wouldn’t combine the hours.”

It’s stories like Swart’s that prompted lawmakers to pass universal recognition of occupational licenses.

“It’s difficult — that’s who I was,” added Swart. “For 30 years, I was a hairdresser. So, it just kind of took my identity away. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do.”

Starting July 1, folks like Swart don’t have to worry about whether the license requirements match up exactly.

During the pandemic, we saw Governor Walz temporarily suspend licensing laws in order to allow health care workers from outside the state to work in Minnesota. And of course, this brings the question of why these laws are necessary in the first place if they can be suspended in times of emergency. The truth is these laws are not necessary.

They are there to protect existing practitioners, but hurt consumers. A lot of states are recognizing that. While Minnesota currently ranks average when it comes to occupational licensing, we have been moving in the wrong direction. And with more states taking bold reforms like universal occupational licensing, we risk being left further behind.