Capitol Comments

On November 28-30, the states a part of the occupational licensing policy learning consortium convened for the second annual meeting in Clearwater, Florida. The state teams had the opportunity to focus on four population groups who are disproportionately affected by licensure—individuals with criminal records, veterans and military spouses, dislocated workers and immigrants with work authorization. License portability, reciprocity, and interstate compacts were also major topics. States had the opportunity to connect with and learn from fellow consortium states, as well as hear from states outside of the consortium that have taken action on occupational licensure including Nebraska and Michigan. 

The Council of State Governments, in partnership with the National Conference of State Legislators, or NCSL, and the State Exchange on Employment and Disability, or SEED, provided technical assistance to Oregon’s House Workgroup on Workforce Development for People with Disabilities. The workgroup is made up of representatives from Oregon’s House Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee chaired by Rep. Jeff Reardon. Other members include Rep. Gene Whisnant, the vice chair, and Rep. Janeen Sollman.

States continue to take significant actions in attempts to lessen barriers to workforce entry caused by occupational licensing. CSG currently facilitates a consortium of 11 states looking at occupational licensing reform as a part of the Occupational Licensing Assessing State Policy and Practice project in partnership with NCSL and NGA, funded by the US Department of Labor. However, the examples below come from states not currently participating in this project’s consortium, signifying that occupational licensing reform is a priority for states nationwide, and not just the 11 states participating in this CSG project.

A commonly cited argument for occupational licensing reform states that licensing results in restricted employment growth and higher wages for licensed workers, which in turn increases consumer costs. Higher wages benefit licensed workers, but wage disparity leads to inefficiency and unfairness, including reducing employment opportunities and depressing wages for excluded workers.

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The Department of Defense estimates that approximately 71 percent of 17- to 24-year-olds would fail to qualify for military service based on the current enlistment criteria because of physical or mental health issues, low educational attainment or felony convictions.

Out of those who do qualify, many are not interested in serving. A Harvard Institute of Politics survey of 18 to 29 year-olds found, 60 percent support using ground troops against the Islamic State but 85 percent said they would “probably” or “definitely” not join the military.

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