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Louisiana House Advances Bill to Break Down Barriers to Work

April 4, 2024

This week, Louisiana House lawmakers voted to ease licensing burdens for skilled workers by advancing a reform to universally recognize out-of-state occupational licenses. Louisiana’s House Bill 716 allows qualified workers who have already been safely working in another state to apply for and receive a license to work based on training or education they’ve already completed.

Sponsored by Representative Charles Owen in the House and Senator Thomas Pressly in the Senate, Louisiana’s reform is modeled after landmark legislation designed by the Goldwater Institute that creates a new pathway to licensure for incoming workers.

Louisiana is one of the most onerous states in the country for occupational licensing regulation. According to the Institute for Justice, the Pelican State licenses 77 of 102 lower-income occupations, with average fees coming in at more than $300. While it can be a costly and time-consuming effort to receive an initial license in a variety of fields in Louisiana, it can be equally challenging for an already-licensed worker to continue working once they move into the state. Many licensing boards require out-of-state applicants to meet the same in-state requirements for licensure, even if workers have already been working safely and productively under a similar license in another state.

As the IJ report demonstrates, Louisiana’s requirements are frequently more stringent than those in many other states, resulting in regulatory disparities that can ensnare workers in red tape. While some Louisiana boards offer targeted license portability to workers from specific states, these agreements are frequently limited to specific professions and impose their own restrictions. In many cases, final approval is also left to the discretion of the board, meaning there is rarely a concrete way for even eligible workers to know ahead of time if they will be allowed to bypass the red tape and get to work.

Fortunately, HB 716 offers another, better way. Under this pro-growth licensing reform, applicants are eligible to receive a license to work so long they have held an out-of-state license at a similar scope of practice for at least one year, are in good standing, and have met the testing or training requirements of their initial licensing state. Veterans and servicemembers who received an occupational license during their time in service are also eligible to apply for a similar license using their military training qualifications. This reform is good for workers seeking to seamlessly get back to work when they cross state lines. It is also good for states like Louisiana as they look to attract talented, dedicated professionals.

HB 716 allows licensing boards to quickly and efficiently compare out-of-state licenses to those in Louisiana. Under the reform, licensing boards are empowered to do an apples-to-apples comparison of a given worker’s scope of practice to see if it aligns with the requirements of a similar Louisiana license. Any difference in training or education hours is more than made up for in real-world experience gained during the one year an applicant must have held his or her license.

In 2019, Arizona’s legislature enacted the first broad universal recognition licensing law in the country, impacting dozens of licensing boards overseeing a diversity of occupations. In the years since Arizona’s law went into effect, more than 9,000 workers have received licenses under the new law, in professions ranging from medicine to cosmetology to landscape architecture. Over 20 additional states have since enacted similar reforms.

The Goldwater Institute thanks Rep. Owen and Rep. Pressly for their commitment to this reform, and commends the House of Representatives for its decisive action in support of Louisiana’s workforce.

House Bill 716 now proceeds to the Louisiana Senate for consideration.

Heather Curry is the Director of Strategic Engagement at the Goldwater Institute, where she leads the Institute’s state and national legislative affairs efforts.



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