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Ohio Puts Skilled Workers First with Goldwater’s Universal Recognition Reform

December 16, 2022

The Ohio General Assembly has acted decisively to streamline licensing for new workers in the Buckeye State. By approving the universal recognition of occupational licenses, a flagship Goldwater Institute reform, the General Assembly has sent an important signal that it values the training and experience that licensed professionals bring and wants to help them get to work faster.

Championed by Senator Kristina Roegner and Senator Rob McColley, Senate Bill 131 will reduce red tape and ease licensing burdens, ensuring that workers have a clear pathway to licensure as they build their lives and careers in Ohio.

“With the passage of The Buckeye Institute-championed universal occupational license recognition, the Ohio General Assembly has advanced critical reforms that will make it easier for qualified workers, who want to make Ohio their home, to start earning a living,” said Rea Hederman Jr., executive director of the Economic Research Center and vice president of policy at The Buckeye Institute.

Designed by the Goldwater Institute and the Institute for Justice, universal recognition allows a licensed professional to apply for and be quickly granted a license to work based on the training or testing he or she has already completed. So long as an applicant has held a valid out-of-state license in good standing for at least one year and does not have any disqualifying criminal history or open complaints, he or she is eligible to receive a similar license under recognition.

In 2019, Arizona became the first state to enact universal recognition, and its Breaking Down Barriers to Work law is already a resounding success. To date, more than 5,000 professionals have been granted a license to work in Arizona under universal recognition, in fields ranging from medicine to cosmetology to engineering. More than 20 states have since followed Arizona’s lead and enacted similar reforms to benefit workers. When Senate Bill 131 is signed into law, Ohio will join a group of states which have acted to prioritize the right to earn a living over the ability of bureaucrats to create even more red tape.

Earlier this year, the Goldwater Institute joined the Buckeye Institute and others in an open letter calling on the General Assembly to approve SB 131, noting that, “Trained, licensed professionals do not lose their skills or forget their training when they cross the state line. But Ohio treats them like they do, making it harder for businesses to hire them and for skilled professionals to move here. That discouraging system must change—and quickly.”

Senate Bill 131 not only expands the benefits of licensing recognition to skilled professionals but provides for an additional pathway to licensure through private certification. This approach will ensure that hardworking Americans aren’t locked out of work in Ohio simply because some state legislatures may approach regulation differently. Additionally, the reform includes a 60-day deadline by which boards are required to issue a decision for an application submitted under universal recognition, helping workers get to work faster.

The Goldwater Institute was pleased to join the Ohio coalition working to advance this important reform, and is grateful for the diligent efforts of the Buckeye Institute, the Institute for Justice, Americans for Prosperity-OhioAmericans for Tax Reform, the Foundation for Government Accountability, and the National Taxpayers Union.

We applaud the efforts of Senator Roegner, Senator McColley, Representative Jenna Powell, and all the other champions of this important reform, and thank the Ohio General Assembly for its decisive action on Senate Bill 131.

Senate Bill 131 awaits the signature of Ohio Governor Mike DeWine.

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



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