Universal licensing bill would help professionals move to Illinois

Universal licensing bill would help professionals move to Illinois

House Bill 5608 would allow professionals with out-of-state licenses or experience to work in Illinois and help residents with certifications from other states to work. Universal licensing was already adopted by 22 other states.

Illinois has a problem keeping those already here from moving away, so shouldn’t it encourage licensed professionals to move here?

House Bill 5608, the Universal Recognition of Licenses Act, would allow individuals with out-of-state occupational licenses or government certifications to work in Illinois if they meet the necessary training or testing and relevant work experience requirements.

It would also open the door for Illinois professionals with out-of-state licenses to start practicing their trade here.

The measure introduced by state Rep. Paul Jacobs, R-Pomona, aims to reduce costly and time-intensive barriers to work that limit inter-state competition and artificially restrict the supply of certain professionals, such as preschool teachers.

To qualify for occupational or professional license recognition in Illinois, out-of-state applicants must meet the following requirements:

  • The person has held the occupational license or government certification in the other state for at least one year.
  • The board in the other state has required the person to pass an examination, or meet education, training, or experience standards.
  • The person is held in good standing by the other state’s licensing board with no complaints, allegations or investigations pending before a board in any other state that relates to unprofessional conduct or an alleged crime.
  • The person does not have a disqualifying criminal record as determined by the Illinois licensing authority under Illinois state law.

In addition, out-of-state applicants with at least three years of relevant work experience can qualify to practice in Illinois if their state does not use occupational licensing to regulate the profession. Applicants would still need to satisfy other criteria, such as being in good standing and not having a disqualifying criminal record.

A Center for Poverty Solutions report found full-time employment is the clearest path out of poverty, but many low-income professions in Illinois are burdened by prohibitive occupational licensing requirements. Some of these professions have unreasonably high burdens, preventing Illinoisans with out-of-state licenses from entering the work force.

When compared to the rest of the Midwest, Illinois licenses more professions and imposes a higher burden than other states – encouraging prospective professionals and state residents to pursue their careers elsewhere.

Illinois’ neighboring states impose fewer restrictions. Universal license recognition is the law in 22 states, including Midwestern states such as Iowa, Missouri, and Ohio. Kansas limits recognition to residents. Ohio and South Dakota require “substantially similar” education, experience or training.

Research shows  licensing decreases employment: changing an occupation from unlicensed to entirely licensed is associated with a 29% reduction in employment. An increase in state licenses is also associated with a decrease in intergenerational mobility and an increase in income inequality.

Economic research has shown tougher licensing standards are not tied to better health and safety outcomes, but serve largely to boost the wages of incumbent licensed professionals. As a result, consumers are forced to face decreased availability and higher prices for services.

Recognizing other states’ licenses is in the best interest of Illinois’ economy – by attracting professionals from other states and allowing Illinois residents with out-of-state accreditation to work, Illinois can both raise revenue through an expanded tax base and foster a competitive business environment that will offer more Americans a path out of poverty.

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