Government Military and Veterans Affairs

Easing of occupational licensure clears first round

Senators advanced a bill from general file Jan. 22 aimed at alleviating certain occupational licensure regulations in Nebraska.

Sen. Danielle Conrad
Sen. Danielle Conrad

LB16, originally introduced last year by former Albion Sen. Tom Briese, was taken up this session by Sen. Danielle Conrad of Lincoln. The bill would make a number of changes to state law regarding credentials for certain professions.

A Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee amendment, adopted 38-1, replaced the bill. Among other changes, the amended measure would provide broad reciprocal licensure for military members, apprentices and individuals who are licensed in other states, provided they meet a number of criteria. It also would add two members to the State Electrical Board.

Reducing barriers to entry into professions is an important element of a comprehensive approach to the state’s workforce shortage, Conrad said, and approximately 20 other states have adopted similar policies. Those states subsequently have seen increased workforce participation and overall economic benefits, she said.

“This is about removing needless red tape from our statute books,” Conrad said. “This is about opening up competition … and this is about getting government out of the way when it comes to individuals who are seeking an opportunity to work and pursue their dreams.”

Seward Sen. Jana Hughes supported the proposal. She called LB16 a “commonsense” measure that would allow qualified individuals to join the one in four occupations that require licensure under Nebraska law. The state already has made progress toward this goal for many health care related occupations and for teachers who are spouses of active military members, she said.

“If universal recognition can work for these two industries, then I believe it’s time for us to support LB16 to bring even more licensed occupations under the universal recognition umbrella,” Hughes said. “Nebraska has a critical shortage of workers and LB16 provides a solution to help address this shortage.”

Among other provisions, the bill would require that applicants for reciprocal licensure must:
• have held their credential for at least a year;
• hold a credential that covers a similar scope of practice, as determined by the licensing board;
• not have a disqualifying criminal record, as determined by the licensing board;
• not have had their credential surrendered or revoked for negligence or misconduct; and
• not have an open complaint or investigation in any other jurisdiction related to unprofessional conduct or an alleged crime.

Following the 39-1 adoption of a Conrad amendment, lawmakers voted 41-1 to advance LB16 to the second round of debate.

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