Occupational licensing laws apply to nearly one in three U.S. jobs, but the most "most broadly and onerously licensed state" of all, according to the Institute for Justice, is Arizona. The Grand Canyon State required a license to work for 64 occupations, costing on average $455 in fees and almost 600 days of education and experience.
Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican and the former CEO of Coldstone Creamery, has made reforming Arizona's occupational licensing regime a priority. "Our focus [has been] on improving that structure of government and really stopping the bullies that were part of the boards and commissions," he told Reason. He's now backing a bill that would allow Arizona to recognize occupational licenses granted by other states.
"Just because somebody packs up that moving van in Chicago, Illinois, they don't lose their skills on the way to the state of Arizona," says Ducey. "Why should somebody have to have suffer the burden of thousands of dollars or weeks or months of recertification in a skill that they already have?"
HB 2569, which was introduced by Rep. Warren Petersen (R–Gilbert), would allow anyone who has an occupational license from another state to be automatically eligible for the same license in Arizona as long as they are in good standing in their home state and don't have a disqualifying criminal history. It would extend an existing state law that recognizes out-of-state licenses for military families. New state residents would still have to pay a fee to the state licensing board and certain professions would have to pass a test on relevant Arizona laws.
"My issue is that we don't really know what the standards are in these other states," says Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley (D–Tucson), who opposes the bill. "Why should we dumb down our standards? I see this as sort of deregulation for the sake of deregulation."
Ducey, who predicts that the bill will pass and that other states will follow Arizona's lead, says he's confident that it has the necessary "guard rails." In 2017, he issued an executive order requiring that state licensing boards review and provide justification for every rules that the governor's office deemed excessive. The next day, he signed the Right to Earn a Living Act, which restricted state boards from issuing any new occupational licensing rules that can't be justified on health and safety grounds.
"I think it's important that we remember who the voters are and who the citizens are and we're here to serve them," Ducey says. "Too many of these boards and commissions exist to stop competition, to stifle and protect the status quo. And we're changing that in Arizona."
Produced by Alexis Garcia. Camera by Paul Detrick and Andrew Belcher.
Photo credits: Monica Almeida/REUTERS/Newscom, Samantha Sais/REUTERS/Newscom, Nicole Neri/REUTERS/Newscom, Ben Moffat/ZUMA Press/Newscom, Fred Young/agefotostock/Newscom.
Additional footage courtesy of Foundation for Government Accountability.