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Florida Considers a Brighter Way Forward for Skilled Workers

March 3, 2023

In exciting news out of the Sunshine State, legislators in Florida have filed bills to advance universal recognition, making it easier for skilled, licensed professionals to get to work. Designed by the Goldwater Institute and first enacted in Arizona, universal recognition is a pro-growth, no-cost reform that states can enact to welcome workers with open arms, not red tape.

Championed by Florida Senator Jay Collins and Representative Traci Koster, Senate Bill 1364 and House Bill 1333 would allow qualified professionals to use their out-of-state training to meet the qualifications for a Florida license to work. So long as an applicant has held a similar out-of-state license in good standing for at least one year and meets all other qualifications, he or she is eligible to apply and be licensed under the reform.

Universal recognition has been in effect in Arizona since 2019, and has led to the safe and efficient licensing of over 6,500 workers. Like the proposed Florida action, Arizona’s law is broad and impacts many professions, including the trades and numerous medical professionals. Under Arizona’s reform, hundreds of physicians have been safely licensed by Arizona’s Medical Board and over two thousand professionals have been licensed by Arizona’s Registrar of Contractors. Florida also wouldn’t be alone in pursuing this action. To date, over twenty states have enacted some version of recognition to benefit workers.

“Licensed and trained professionals do not lose their skills or forget their training when they move to Florida,” said Representative Koster, speaking to the Florida chapter of Americans for Prosperity. “By sponsoring HB 1333, we will reduce red tape and ensure that these workers have a clear pathway to licensure as they build their new lives in Florida.”

Contrary to common misconception, universal recognition does not change the nature of existing compacts or alter other reciprocal agreements. It simply provides another pathway for applicants to consider when they look to bring their training and talent into a state. Universal recognition also does not delicense any profession: boards remain free to evaluate licenses as they always have, and to ensure that qualified applicants meet the rigorous standards in the bill. If an applicant doesn’t meet the standard, a board can deny a license. Florida’s bill not only allows for the quick and safe licensing of civilian workers, it also allows for the recognition of training completed during military service. This essential recognition of a Military Occupational Specialty ensures that hardworking Americans who have served their country won’t be asked to sacrifice even more of their time to jump through burdensome regulatory hoops.

In addition to being commonsense, universal recognition makes economic sense as well. A recent study from the Commonsense Institute estimates that the economic impact of universal recognition in Arizona will increase the state’s GDP by $1.5 billion over 10 years, and bring in nearly 16,000 additional workers.

With this reform, Florida’s legislators have the opportunity to demonstrate that skilled professionals are welcome to work, making the state an even more attractive place to live.  The Goldwater Institute applauds the efforts of Senator Collins and Representative Koster in championing this reform, and is thrilled to work alongside AFP-Florida and the Institute for Justice on this essential reform.

To learn how universal recognition can work in your state, please visit Goldwater’s page on Breaking Down Barriers to Work.

Heather Curry is the Director of Strategic Engagement at the Goldwater Institute.   



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