March 12, 2020
By Heather Curry

Utah has become the latest state to follow the Goldwater Institute’s national lead in breaking down barriers to work.

Across the country, licensed professionals who relocate across state lines are often required to complete additional training or testing simply to obtain a license to work in their new home state. These extra requirements frequently force applicants to spend more time and more money just to be approved for a license to do a job they were already doing safely and productively elsewhere. Fortunately, more and more states are starting to recognize that this is a costly and unneeded barrier to work for countless Americans. In 2019, Arizona became the first state in the nation to recognize out-of-state occupational licenses. Shortly thereafter, Pennsylvania followed suit, signing its own recognition bill into law. This landmark reform has garnered a groundswell of support across the country. From coast to coast, 20 additional states have introduced their own version of this Goldwater Institute-inspired reform.

Now, Utah is the latest state to make it easier for residents to get to work. Introduced by Senator Curtis Bramble and supported by Utah’s own Libertas Institute and Americans for Prosperity, Utah Senate Bill 23 passed through both houses of the legislature with overwhelming support and awaits the signature of Utah Governor Gary Herbert. Upon passage of the bill, Connor Boyack, president at Libertas Institute, commented, “This is an important step to decreasing arbitrary barriers to work that government has long put in the path of our hardworking neighbors and friends. We’re excited to add Utah to the short list of states that have made this important step, and look forward to helping more states jump on board.” 

Modeled after Arizona’s law, SB 23 directs Utah’s licensing entities to approve an application for a license to an individual who has held a license in good standing for at least one year at a similar scope of practice as the license he or she currently holds. This reform empowers Utah’s licensing boards to concentrate their area of consideration to whether an individual has already been performing similar duties under their out-of-state license. If so, then there is no need to delay in issuing a license. Boards no longer need to devote unnecessary time to comparing education or training requirements across all 50 states, and applicants are no longer required to duplicate testing or training.

Utah’s licensing reform benefits not only workers and their families, but also employers and consumers in the state who will benefit from the increased options and price competition that accompany an influx of skilled labor. As America’s workforce becomes increasingly mobile, states are finding themselves in direct competition when it comes to attracting skilled workers to fill jobs in a variety of fields. With this reform, Utah is signaling that it values the time and effort already invested by America’s skilled licensed professionals and welcomes them to work in the state.

Arizona’s universal recognition law may be less than a year old, but even early data shows that it is already benefiting workers. Since the passage of Arizona’s universal recognition law, hundreds of professionals have applied for and been granted a license to work in their field of choice in Arizona, from cosmetology to dentistry. These hundreds of success stories represent more than the successful implementation of a transformative idea: They represent the families, careers, and communities that benefit when government steps out of the way of Americans who are skilled, ready, and willing to work. Once signed into law, Utah’s universal recognition reform will open the same door for these kinds of opportunities in the Beehive State.

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

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