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Kansas Puts Skilled Workers First and Enacts Goldwater's Universal Recognition Reform

April 22, 2021

April 22, 2021

Kansas has joined a growing movement of states that are making it easier for new residents with occupational licenses to get to work. This week, Governor Laura Kelly (D) signed House Bill 2066 into law, a Goldwater Institute reform which ensures that workers have a clear pathway to licensure as they look to build their lives and careers in Kansas.

Championed by Representative Chris Croft, this bipartisan legislation has its origins in the Breaking Down Barriers to Work Act, a law designed by the Goldwater Institute and the Institute for Justice. The Goldwater Institute was honored to work alongside Representative Croft, Americans for Prosperity-Kansas, and the Institute for Justice on this important reform. 

Today, about one in four jobs in America requires an occupational license — a government permission slip to work. These licenses are expensive, demand time-consuming training, and are subject to requirements that vary from state to state. When licensed workers move to a new state, they are frequently forced to put their careers on hold to go through the licensing process all over again. But under HB 2066, a new resident who has held an out-of-state license in good standing for at least one year can apply for and be quickly approved for a license at a similar scope of practice in Kansas. 

“Removing unnecessary and burdensome red tape in our state can attract new residents in search of greater opportunity. It will allow people who move to Kansas to get to work quickly and succeed in our state,” said Elizabeth Patton, State Director for Americans for Prosperity-Kansas. “This action, along with continued licensing reforms, can give our economy the boost that it needs to recover stronger and better from the pandemic.”

With House Bill 2066, Kansas has the opportunity to support America’s skilled workforce at a time when workers are facing unprecedented challenges due to the global pandemic. It also joins a growing movement of states across the country enacting this reform, including Arizona, Iowa, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Utah, Pennsylvania, and Wyoming. This session, more than 20 states have introduced a version of this reform to benefit professionals and military families alike. Just last week, Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves signed HB 1263 into law, and there may be more success stories to come before the 2021 legislative sessions draw to an end.

In 2019, Arizona became the first state to enact universal recognition, and its law is already a resounding success. To date, more than 3,000 professionals have been granted a license to work in Arizona under universal recognition, in fields ranging from medicine to cosmetology to engineering. Earlier this year, the Goldwater Institute wrote to the Kansas legislature about how the reform could benefit their state, noting that universal recognition will “allow professionals to more easily bring their skills and experience into Kansas, an approach which will, as in Arizona, prove beneficial to workers, their families, and the state.”

In addition to license recognition, HB 2066 allows for additional pathways to licensure through work experience or private certification, includes a 45-day deadline by which boards are required to issue licenses when applications have been received, and requires a 15-day expedited license approval process for military members and their families. This quick approval time will ensure that workers do not face unreasonable delays as they seek to transition their careers into Kansas. 

With millions of Americans still unemployed, universal recognition is a pro-growth, no-cost reform that states can pursue to remove the barriers that so often stand between workers and their right to earn a living. “It’s now been a year since the lockdown, and Wichita and Topeka’s employment numbers continue to lag,” Patton said earlier this month. “We urge Governor Kelly to swiftly sign this bill into law to open more doors and create more job opportunities for Kansans across the state.”  

The Goldwater Institute thanks Representative Croft for his leadership on this issue, and applauds the work of Americans for Prosperity-Kansas, the Kansas Policy Institute, the Institute for Justice, and the numerous legislative champions who advocated on behalf of this essential reform.

To learn more about how universal recognition can work in your state, please visit Breaking Down Barriers to Work



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