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Bill to reduce regulation for occupational licenses set to go before full legislature

Some lawmakers and advocacy groups in Nebraska say the cost to obtain some occupational licenses is too high; hundreds of dollars in fees, paperwork, and in some cases what many are calling excessive educational requirements. (MGN Online)

Some lawmakers and advocacy groups in Nebraska say the cost to obtain some occupational licenses is too high; hundreds of dollars in fees, paperwork, and in some cases what many are calling excessive educational requirements.

The legislative push to cut down on regulation is one-step closer to becoming law. Legislative bill 299 has cleared committee, and will be presented to the full legislature on Tuesday.

The proposal aims to create a process for lawmakers to routinely review occupational licensing laws. In addition, it’s a push that has gained support from Libertarian, Democratic, and Republican lawmakers.

"One of the things we want to do is make sure the legislature is actively engaged and knows what's going on in the process," said Senator Laura Ebke from District 31.

Occupational licenses are given out to a number of professionals including doctors, athletic trainers, and cosmetologists. It gives professionals permission to practice in Nebraska.

Senator Ebke said some of the requirements to get the licenses look more like red tape.

"You have occupational licensing boards who create their own rules and get their own regulations within the occupational licensing board themselves." Senator Ebke said.

Her proposal would require lawmakers to review licensing requirements every 5 years. In addition, for people who used time in jail to learn a trade, the bill would also create a path for them to integrate into the workforce.

"If it's a profession or occupation that has a license, it allows them to petition them in advance and say 'would these things on my record prevent me from getting a license’," Senator Ebke said.

According to the Platte Institute, 1 in 4 Nebraska workers is impacted by occupational licensing laws.

The economic research group is also among the major organizations in Nebraska that have teamed up with Senator Ebke, along with the American Civil Liberties Union and Nebraska Appleseed.

"To make sure that those licenses are doing what they're intended to do, which is number one, protect the public. Then, also to make sure that the licenses are not overly burdensome in terms of entry into the workforce. Whether it's excessive fees, whether it's excessive educational requirements," said Nicole Fox, the director of government relations for the Platte Institute.

If passed, this bill would go into effect January 2019.

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