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Powell Introduces License Recognition Legislation

March 10, 2021
Jena Powell News

COLUMBUS – State Rep. Jena Powell (R-Arcanum) today introduced House Bill 203, legislation that enhances Ohio’s economic competitiveness by enacting occupational license reciprocity. 

Under the bill, out-of-state occupational licenses, such as those held by electricians, truck drivers, public accountants etc., would be recognized in Ohio if the individual is in good standing with their profession, maintains a proficient level of work experience, and meets the minimum educational requirements. 

“With the right protections built in, Ohio can truly open up its doors to our full economic potential by embracing universal licensing recognition,” said Powell. “Cutting government red tape will further attract businesses and entrepreneurs to our state.”

According to The Hamilton Project, less than five percent of professions nationwide required an occupational license in 1950. Currently, Ohio licenses 651 occupations, which is around 18% of professions. 

“Universal licensure reciprocity makes sense,” said State Senator Kristina Roegner (R-Hudson), who introduced companion legislation in the Ohio Senate. “If someone has been trained and licensed in one state then they should not have to jump through hoops to be licensed in another state. In theory this is similar to getting a driver’s license. How awful would it be to have to be re-licensed in each state where you want to drive! This bill will say to those licensed professionals, ‘come to Ohio, you and your skills are welcome here’.”

State Rep. Craig Riedel (R-Defiance) and State Senators George Lang (R-West Chester) and Mark Romanchuk (R-Ontario), all co-chairs of the Business First Caucus, support the legislation. 

“The Business First Caucus aims to make Ohio one of the ‘most-entered’ states in America,” said Lang. “I applaud the sponsors’ efforts to make it easier for licensed professionals to move to our state.”

“Looking at this from a pro-business perspective, it is extremely important to create a less restrictive environment so that professionals can relocate without being hindered by unnecessary occupational licensing standards,” said Riedel.

“HB 203 will promote economic development in the state of Ohio as well as provide freedom for individuals to work without license restrictions,” said Romanchuk. 

The legislation also has the support of a number of economic organizations:

“Licensing rates in Ohio are 60% higher than the rate of union membership making it one of the largest barriers to entry in the state. Most Americans support occupational licensing reform especially as they consider government-issued licenses one of the least important considerations in selecting service providers. Rep. Powell’s universal recognition bill is another important step in state legislators’ ongoing efforts to provide Ohioans with more and better opportunities.” 

-          Jessica Gandy, Legislative Counsel of the Institute for Justice

“Ohio has a long-standing challenge in attracting and retaining workers due in part to its burdensome occupational licensing requirements. Adopting universal licensing recognition, as Rep. Powell has proposed and The Buckeye Institute has championed, will make Ohio a more attractive place for workers to move to and it will make it easier for licensed workers to start earning a living.” 

-          Rea S. Hederman Jr., Executive Director of the Economic Research Center at The Buckeye Institute

"Workers don't lose their skills because they move across state borders. Allowing them to come to your state and work in a field they already have experience is a win for the worker, and a win for consumers who will be able to take immediate advantage of their skills." 

-          Laura Ebke, Senior Fellow at the Platte Institute

“Economic research has shown that rigid occupational licensing restrictions reduce geographic mobility by as much as 7%. Universal recognition eases this rigidity and allows licensed workers to more easily move into Ohio and begin working and contributing to the state's economy. Ohio would not be going out on a limb by enacting universal recognition. Eight states, including bordering state Pennsylvania, have enacted some form of this legislation.”

-          Dr. Edward Timmons, Professor of Economics and Director of the Knee Center for the Study of Occupational Licensing.

“In Arizona, we recognized how difficult government was making it for people to get to work. Through universal recognition, we changed all that. Now, more than 2,800 Arizonans have had their licenses approved based on their out-of-state training and qualifications. We applaud Representative Powell and the Ohio Legislature for their ongoing efforts to advance this pro-growth and commonsense reform.”

-          Victor Riches, President and CEO of the Goldwater Institute 

“Advocating for the reduction or elimination of barriers that stand in the way of people living up to their full potential is at the heart of Americans for Prosperity’s mission, and that principle is self-evident in this important legislation. Ohio legislators have done some commendable work in recent years with respect to occupational licensing reform, but they need to continue to lead on the issue of licensing recognition or they risk being left behind as several other states have already enacted similar policies. I’d like to commend Representative Powell for including a provision in this legislation that would really set Ohio apart: recognizing certifications and training that members of the military receive during their service as valid occupational licensing credentials. As Ohio continues its economic recovery, this bill will further reduce barriers between talented, skilled workers and opportunities to maximize their livelihoods.”

-          Micah Derry, State Director for AFP – Ohio

The bill now awaits referral to a House committee.