Legislature didn’t act on universal licensing legislation in 2020

By Aaron Rice
March 23, 2020

Before the legislature suspended the session to combat the spread of the coronavirus in the state, both chambers opted against considering legislation that would have allowed those holding an occupational license in another state to receive one in Mississippi without jumping through the traditional hoops. 

Senate Bill 2415 was sponsored by Sen. Kevin Blackwell. The bill died in Accountability, Efficiency, Transparency without a vote. House Bill 261 was sponsored by Rep. Becky Currie. It died in Judiciary A without a vote. 

As of now, a new state resident who is part of a licensed occupation often has to go through the same process as someone receiving their license for the first time with the subsequent fees and tests. 

Mississippi does have limited reciprocity agreements with some states with some occupations to honor their licenses, but new legislation would have ended this practice and allow most new residents to trade in their former state’s license with a new Mississippi one with little hassle.

But as the state copes with COVID-19 and the strain on the healthcare system, we have seen emergency actions to allow out-of-state medical professionals to work in Mississippi. Out-of-state nurses – both RNs and LPNs – are allowed to apply for a temporary license. Additionally, out-of-state doctors and nurse practitioners are allowed to provide telemedicine services courtesy of an order from the Mississippi State Board of Medical Licensure. 

This is similar to what many other states are doing. One state that didn't need to issue orders for out-of-state medical professionals to provide care was Arizona. That is because they were the first state in the nation to pass universal recognition of licensing in 2019.

Recognizing occupational licenses from another state is good policy any day of the week. It shouldn’t take a pandemic for us to see it. And it shouldn’t take an emergency declaration to make it occur. That is true regardless of the occupation. 


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