Occupational licenses should cross state lines and the state of Arizona has a chance to be a national leader, while Mississippi falls further behind.
Republicans in the Arizona legislature have introduced a bill that would allow anyone with an occupational license from a different state to move to Arizona and automatically qualify for the same license without having to retake classes and pass tests again.
Contrast that attitude with the Magnolia State. Mississippi has one of the most restrictive occupational licensure regimes nationwide and the state licenses more occupations than most states.
Two bills that were far from any long-reaching reform that would’ve allowed licensed medical professionals such as physicians, dentists, dental hygienist, optometrists or nurses to practice in the state for charitable or voluntary health care without a fee didn’t even make it out of committee.
Senate Bill 2248, authored by state Sen. Angela Hill (R-Picayune), would’ve given out-of-state practitioners the right to practice in the state for charitable reasons and they would’ve been given one credit hour of continuing education for every 60 minutes of voluntary medical services.
House Bill 1491, a similar bill, but without the continuing education component, was authored by state Rep. Shane Aguirre (R-Tupelo).
The Arizona bill has several requirements. The license holder would have to pay a fee to the state board that administers the license and provide proof that they’re in good standing with the licensing authority in their old state. This would happen even if the license holder’s old state doesn’t reciprocate by honoring Arizona licenses.
“If you’ve been licensed to work in another state and want to move here, let it be known: Arizona will not stand in your way,” Gov. Doug Ducey said during his State of the State address earlier this month.
The Republican governor has said he’d sign the bill if it makes it to his desk.
Mississippi does have some limited reciprocity by honoring occupational licenses for military families that’s intended mainly for spouses of active members. There is also statutory language with some occupations — such as cosmetologists, general contractors and home inspectors — that allows reciprocity agreements. Doing so would be up to the individual regulatory boards.
The Mississippi Legislature did pass a bill in 2017 that created the Occupational Licensing Review Commission to put the state in compliance with a 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision, North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners v. Federal Trade Commission. The court ruled that state occupational licensing boards can receive immunity only if they’re actively supervised by the state.
Today, approximately 19 percent of Mississippians need a license to work. This includes everything from a shampooer, who must receive 1,500 clock hours of education, to a fire alarm installer, who must pay over $1,000 in fees. All totaled, there are 66 low-to-middle income occupations that are licensed in Mississippi. According to a recent report from the Institute for Justice, Mississippi has lost 13,000 jobs because of occupational licensing and the state has suffered an economic value loss of $37 million.