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Victory in AZ! Goldwater Reins in Bureaucratic Power with Workforce Expansion Act

April 8, 2024

Arizonans can more easily work in the field of their choice thanks to the Workforce Expansion Act, a Goldwater Institute law that reins in unelected bureaucrats’ power to enact burdensome restrictions on the Right to Earn a Living.

Sponsored by Rep. Travis Grantham and written by the Goldwater Institute in partnership with the Justice Action Network—and supported by overwhelming bipartisan majorities in the Arizona House and Senate—HB2308 ensures the state’s occupational licensing boards cannot use inconsistent, vague “moral character” requirements to keep workers out of the workforce.

Such requirements are one of the more blatant ways that Arizona regulatory agencies limit people’s access to work in a chosen field or even discourage them from seeking an occupational license altogether. Some boards list these requirements outright, while many list broad and undefined factors, such as a person’s past “acts of moral turpitude,” which can be subjectively interpreted by the boards to mean any criminal offense—including minor mistakes.

Making matters worse, a board can deny someone a license to work even if their past criminal history has nothing to do with the occupation in which they are seeking a license or their ability to work in a chosen field. Finally, if someone is denied an occupational license because of a prior offense, they have little recourse outside of appealing to the same board that denied them or pursuing costly litigation.

That’s why the Goldwater Institute and the Justice Action Network wrote HB2308 to addresses this workforce access issue.

First, the Workforce Expansion Act clarifies that Arizona’s occupational or professional licensing boards can only deny, revoke, or suspend a license because of a prior criminal offense if that offense is substantially related to the occupation for which the person is seeking a license. The act also defines “substantially related” and “reasonable threat” to public health and safety, removing some of the ambiguity in the boards’ decision making.

Second, if a board denies someone’s occupational license based on a prior criminal offense that is unrelated to the occupation, then that person can petition an objective third party—the Office of Administrative Hearings—to independently review that decision.

The reform does not eliminate any background checks or fingerprint requirements, and it still allows the boards to deny an occupational license to unqualified applicants. The law simply provides clarity and fairness to the process while still protecting public health and safety.

The right to work in a profession of your choice and provide for yourself and your family—the pursuit of happiness—is one of our most cherishes rights as Americans, especially today, amid sky-high inflation and workforce shortages.

HB2308 restores the proper balance between free enterprise and legitimate government regulation, ensuring that economic opportunity for all is not merely a promise, but a reality.



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