Patrick Ishmael

If you’re licensed to fix hair, or fix plumbing, or fix ankles in another state, it’s sort of silly that Missouri would start with the presumption that you can’t fix those things in our state, too. Missouri has made positive strides on licensing in the past, but there’s plenty more that could, and should, be done.

And that’s why it was exciting to see Arizona take a big step toward that ultimate policy goal of greater licensure reciprocity, by putting forward “universal licensing” legislation. From the Reason write-up:

A bill introduced Monday in the Arizona General Assembly would allow anyone with an occupational license from a different state to automatically qualify for the same license in Arizona without having to retake classes and pass tests again—though they would have to pay a fee to the state board that administers the license, and would have to demonstrate that they were in good standing with the licensing authorities in their previous state. So-called "universal licensing recognition" would make it easier for licensed workers to move to Arizona and would do away with time-consuming and expensive requirements for license-holders who want to move across state lines...

Arizona already recognizes licenses from beyond its own borders for military families, and the new bill would extend that same privilege to other workers.

Last month the bill passed out of the Arizona House on a bipartisan vote, and it’s now before the Arizona Senate for further consideration.

The Arizona bill could go further in its reforms than it currently does. First, the bill’s provisions apply to “a person who establishes residence in [Arizona]”; incidental contact by an out-of-state practitioner, as might happen in a telemedicine context, isn’t enough to enjoy the licensing relief of the bill. Second, the bill still allows Arizona regulators to impose some financial and examination burdens on these workers, so time will tell whether the regulatory state in Arizona will be defanged here, or whether in practice these licensing boards will just get more creative in enacting barriers to professional entry.

Arizona’s bill is an incremental reform, but as increments go, it would be a pretty sizable chunk of better policy. It will be interesting to see if the bill becomes law, and if it does, how many states follow suit shortly thereafter. Missouri policymakers should keep a close eye on this legislation. It isn’t perfect, as I’ve noted, but it could be a good starting point for truly universal and reciprocal licensure reform.


About the Author

Patrick Ishmael
Director of Government Accountability

Patrick Ishmael is the director of government accountability at the Show-Me Institute.