A preliminary licensing program would save applicants time and money

Getting licensed is expensive and time-consuming. To be a licensed cosmetologist in Minnesota, for example, one must undertake 1,550 hours of training, write three exams, and pay nearly $300 in fees. A cosmetology course itself can cost as much as $25,000.

For someone with a criminal record, the process might even be more daunting. Even after undertaking all the necessary requirements, a criminal record might prevent someone from getting licensed.

Other states have worked around this issue by establishing a preliminary licensing program whereby individuals apply for an initial assessment, which tells them if they are eligible for a license or not.

In Minnesota, a bill was introduced that would do the same. The bill — HF 3403 — would establish “a procedure whereby people could understand within 60 days of a preliminary application if they’re eligible for a license before spending time and money trying to attain it.” That way if individuals are not eligible, they do not spend time and money on education or training.

And in addition to that, the bill would also require licensing boards to provide any necessary steps individuals can take to be eligible for a license if the preliminary application determines that their criminal record makes them ineligible for a license.

Where is the bill now?

Approved 11-2 Tuesday by the House State Government Finance and Elections Committee, its next stop is the House Commerce Finance and Policy Committee.

Anna Odegaard, director of the Minnesota Asset Building Coalition, said the bill would benefit both people looking for a career and businesses seeking qualified employees.

“In 19 states and Washington, D.C., individuals with criminal records have a pre-clearance process to apply to state licensors at any time prior to enrolling into required education or training programs,” wrote Jenna Bottler, deputy director of Justice Action Network

A good step toward reform

Licensing is expensive and complicated enough without taking into consideration criminal records. Legislators need to support HF 3403. It will save Minnesota applicants — especially those with a criminal record — time and money.