Legislation recently introduced in Wisconsin could change the way the state studies proposed occupational licensing regulations. Sponsored by Senator Chris Kapenga and Representative Rob Hutton, Senate Bill 541 calls for the establishment of a sunrise review process that would formally require certain information to be collected and analyzed during the legislative process.
On November 13th, The Council of State Governments, the National Conference of State Legislatures, the National Governor’s Association, and representatives from the states participating in the Occupational Licensing Policy Learning Consortium were on hand to share some of the successes stemming from the multi-year, Department of Labor funded project. The event saw over 60 individuals in attendance, representing a variety of public and nonprofit policy organizations
Traditional occupational licensing standards typically require that applicants achieve a certain number of hours of training, education and/or experience and pass a cumulative examination before a license is granted by a state. However, the time-based requirements that states implement can vary widely. For example, aspiring barbers can be required to complete between 1,000 and 2,100 hours of training, depending on the state, before they are eligible for a license. This variance in standards demonstrates the discretion states can take in setting regulations that seek to balance public protection with economic opportunity. While licensing is a means to safeguard public health and safety, overly burdensome regulations can exacerbate the economic costs of licensing such as lower economic outputs and fewer jobs.
Seeking to reduce the regulatory burden on workers, the state of Utah established an alternative to time-based licensing requirements by passing House Bill 226, which grants its Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing the ability to implement competency-based requirements.
The consortium of states participating in the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Licensing: Assessing State Policy and Practice project recently began their second round of project meetings to discuss occupational license reform. The 11 states--Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Nevada, Utah and Wisconsin--are individually meeting to further review their licensure process, engage with policy experts and develop action plans. The state team meetings will culminate this year in the project’s second multistate learning consortium summit to be held Nov. 28-30 in Clearwater, Florida.
It has been more than two months since Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands when it landed as a Category 4 storm. The disaster has so far resulted in at least 52 fatalities on the islands and the damage total has been estimated to be in the tens of billions. In response, FEMA has deployed more than 15,000 federal civilian personnel and military service members to conduct disaster relief operations. The states are also stepping up to provide assistance with 34 responding to requests for mutual aid in Puerto Rico and 22 supporting requests for mutual aid in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Despite the continuing response efforts, the islands combined 3.5 million people are still facing challenges to regain basic services.
Data from the National Center for Education Statistics, or NCES, states that 53.4 percent of post-secondary undergraduate students financed at least part of their education through federal loans in 2011-12, an increase from 34.4 percent in 2003-041. While the NCES’s data does not account for private loans, which would further raise this percentage, it already brings to concern the effect that increased educational borrowing will have on repayment rates and future personal financial indicators, such as credit scores.
The recent hack of the consumer reporting agency Equifax compromised the security of 143 million Americans’ personal information, including Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and driver’s license numbers. The incident serves as a stark reminder of the perils of identity theft and its impact on consumer credit reports. As a response to these concerns, certain credit monitoring and control provisions have been granted to consumers through federal and state.
Right-to-Work legislation has garnered renewed activity in states across the country. Since 2012, six states—Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, West Virginia and Wisconsin—have adopted right-to-work legislation. Conversely, New Hampshire and New Mexico voted against such a measure during their 2017 legislative sessions. Though legislation varies by state, right-to-work laws allow an employee to work for a business without being obligated to join a labor union. Union groups strongly oppose such legislation as they argue it would jeopardize worker wages and benefits and allow workers who do not pay dues to benefit from union wage and benefit negotiations. Advocates of the law maintain that it encourages economic development and provides options for employees.
The importance of the internet extends to nearly every function of modern society including education, the economy, public safety, health care, entertainment, social offerings and transportation/travel. In fact, internet access is becoming increasingly seen in the United States as important to communities as traditional utilities like water and sewer service.