Evaluation of government policies and practices (2023)

Lessons learned from the consortium

Through the experience of partners and states with the consortium project, we review several lessons learned in this section. We looked at lessons that most states faced at one point or another, including some that ultimately led to success and others that continued to present challenges throughout the project. Project messaging, stakeholder engagement, and managing potential perceptions of market control were challenges faced by nearly all states in their consortium work, and we cover the range of approaches states followed below. The changes in leadership happened only in a few states, but they were dramatic and produced some important lessons learned. We also report lessons related to the type of occupations, processes such as sunrise and sunset, and the population groups that states worked with during the course of this project.

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Messaging was a challenging area for every state in the consortium, requiring each state team to tackle the problem. Consortium states regularly had to consider both internal messages to legislators, administrators, and licensing boards, and external messages to members of the public and private sectors, and professional associations.

Across the consortium states, common themes emerged around the messages. These topics included using messaging to encourage stakeholder engagement, address or avoid fears of deregulation; educate legislators about licensing policy and regulation; and connecting leave policy to broader labor and workforce issues.

Messaging was constantly a challenge for consortium states. Creating a consistent message was especially difficult given the wide range of audiences and stakeholders that state teams needed to communicate with. State teams were also not allowed to run marketing campaigns or lobbying teams. Team members often had to make their messages compete with a flood of messages from internal and external sources. This can come from lobbying firms and professional organizations opposing a law and/or from councils and legislators. Each state team adopted a different strategy when sending messages about their work.


Maryland focused its efforts on four main occupations: hairdressers, cosmetologists, HVACR (heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration), and plumbing. The overall objective of focusing on these occupations was to lower barriers to entry for workers and to make changes to the selection process and training programs for board members.

Resistance to change from licensing boards was the most consistent obstacle faced by the Maryland team. The team would meet regularly and work to educate board members about their concerns and present boards with possible ways to lower barriers to entry into the profession. Board members were also invited to submit their ideas for reform. The message focused on reducing barriers, but was met with mixed results. Some suggested proposals were adopted by the councils. More commonly, councils would respond with their own concerns, specifically fears of reductions in public safety, increased competition in labor markets or suppliers, and lack of recognition of the issues that needed to be addressed.

Maryland team members faced obstacles in adapting their strategy when they encountered resistance to proposed reforms. They regularly tried to change the font of the message to help it gain political ground. They have tried to gain legislative input, but have consistently encountered obstacles in gaining legislative support or a legislator to champion their priorities and policy recommendations. The Maryland team worked toward this goal by providing proactive education to legislators at committee meetings. After recommendations submitted to boards in 2019 were poorly received, the Maryland team revamped the message source with a letter to boards from the state secretary of labor. Since we received this letter, which was written to address the boards' concerns while furthering the consortium team's priorities, the boards have shown a slight increase in openness to discussing possible changes.

Stakeholder participation, institutionalism, perceptions of market control

Participation of interested parties

Numerous entities can be considered stakeholders in the occupational licensing policy:

  • Professional Associations.
  • Unions.
  • Licensed people.
  • Individuals who wish to obtain a license.
  • Businessmen.
  • legislators.
  • Consumers.
  • Regulators.
  • Government appointees and special populations who are disproportionately affected by an unreasonably burdensome license.

Engagement with the necessary stakeholders was crucial for the consortium states in implementing the desired reforms. Commitment can take many forms, including:

  • Focus groups.
  • commission testimony.
  • The creation of working groups.
  • researches.
  • City Halls.
  • state meetings.
  • Educate legislators individually and in larger workshops.
  • Publication of reports.
  • webinars
  • Other ways.

The way state teams worked with their stakeholders was as varied as the types of stakeholders. Some stakeholders helped advise and shape potential reforms, while others:

  • Sponsored Legislation.
  • He wrote rules.
  • Testified before legislative committees.
  • Answered or administered surveys.
  • He spoke with parliamentarians.
  • Educated policy makers and regulators.
  • He provided comments on possible strategies, reforms and messages.

Occupational licensing reform efforts in consortium states have not been without opposition, but states that have significantly involved associations and professionals in the process have had greater success. A broader and more diverse set of stakeholders leads to greater participation in the process and achieves better results.

Institutionalization of approaches

During the three years of work on the consortium project, the partners saw several ways in which states institutionalized their efforts to review and update their occupational licensing requirements. In general, these approaches fall into one of two camps: formal approaches, consisting of committees, processes, and other newly founded entities within the state government mandated by law, and informal approaches, consisting of strengthened links between government offices, places of engagement stakeholder engagement and other strategies not codified in state government.

formalized approaches

Through the creation of an initial or final review process, a new legislative committee, or new board practices, Consortium states have created formal processes to review and evaluate their occupational licensing policies and practices.

Initial and final reviews are standardized processes by which the executive branch, the legislature, or both have the opportunity to review occupational licensing rules and regulations. To learn more about these processes, see the Emergence and Establishment in States section on page 62. The new legislative commissions are legislative bodies responsible for reviewing and evaluating occupational licensing regulation. They are also responsible for evaluating new legislation for professional licensing. Finally, formal board trainings and other board-related processes are regulatory bodies that can help shape the conversation about occupational licensing in your state.

informal approaches

Consortium states have also used informal approaches to consolidate and fully institutionalize their occupational licensing work. Many states have convened stakeholder committees to solicit feedback and guide their work around specific populations or professions. Other states have worked to institutionalize their license changes by fostering relationships, some existing and some new, between different state agencies and regulatory bodies. Finally, some state governors' offices helped to institutionalize their commitment to occupational change by becoming involved in the process, communicating with central and local teams, and taking executive actions consistent with the goals of the state consortium team.

When it comes to institutionalizing license changes, one of the most successful approaches that consortium states have implemented has been to create and utilize stakeholder working groups. Often informal, these stakeholder committees were typically composed of a diverse group of members representing a variety of interests, including:

  • Local non-profit organizations that work with people with criminal records.
  • Nonprofit organizations that work with veterans.
  • Non-profit organizations that work with immigrants.
  • Local businessmen.
  • Religious groups and religious leaders.
  • Refugee resettlement groups.
  • Local government members.
  • members of the state government.
  • Representatives of professional associations.

Many entities have influence over licensing policies and processes in most states, but there is sometimes a lack of communication between the stakeholders involved. Another informal approach that helped to institutionalize licensing efforts in the syndicate states was the emphasis on interagency communication and collaboration. A great example of this comes from Delaware, where the state's Department of Labor and Department of Corrections shared very similar goals to bring more people with criminal records back to work in the state. It was through the resources and technical assistance provided by the partners that the two agencies were able to come together and formulate a strategy in which they both played a role in reducing licensing barriers for individuals with criminal records in the state. Another example of increased communication between licensing bodies comes from Arkansas. Through technical assistance and resources provided by partners, the local team was able to bring together board members from over 20 different licensing boards to discuss common challenges and actively engage in the state's occupational regulation conversation. Ultimately, the Arkansas core team produced a major report of recommendations on how to improve occupational regulation in the state based on feedback and input from the local team of more than 20 members.

Avoid perceptions of market control

One of the main focuses of the syndicate states was to ensure that their professional licensing boards operated in the interest of public safety and without the perception of market control. As the collaborative occupational licensing project has advanced and grown, compliance with the recent Supreme Court decision in North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners v. Federal Trade Commission and a renewed scrutiny of states' licensing requirements have become centerpieces of the consortium's work with states.

While reasonable steps to protect public health and safety through the licensing process are within the remit of occupational licensing boards, those same boards must be careful not to take steps that could be viewed as unfair or anti-competitive.

In Delaware, Governor Jack Markell issued an executive order establishing the Delaware Professional Licensure Review Board. The order directs the committee to provide state oversight to Delaware licensing boards; conduct a review of the “composition, state oversight, and licensing requirements” of each commission, council, and agency; and submit a report recommending actions to remove unnecessary charges and “alleviate the identified antitrust liability risk” by NC Dental.

In 2017, Mississippi passed the Occupational Board Compliance Act to help boards and their members "avoid liability under federal antitrust laws". It sets out the board's policy to use the least restrictive regulation available and consistent with public safety and provides a range of regulatory options from market competition (least restrictive) to occupational licensing (most restrictive).

These state actions are examples of a national movement to avoid anti-competitive actions and remove unnecessary barriers to entry into the job market. As states navigate a changing regulatory environment, state leaders continue to provide innovative solutions that balance public safety with promoting a strong, competitive economy.


The Nevada State Board of Nursing (NSBN) in 2017 supported legislation to join the Enhanced Nursing Licensing Compact (ENLC). Despite receiving support from the AARP, the Nevada Nurses Association, Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center, and others, the bill did not pass the committee. The bill was opposed by the Service Employees International Union, the Working Families Party and the Clark County Education Association. The NSBN did not have a broad enough support base of enough stakeholders to help get its bill through committee. In 2019, the NSBN decided to adapt its strategy. The Nevada team sent a survey to nurses working in Nevada. The survey found that of the 43,000 nurses interviewed, 90% supported joining the pact. With the help of consultant Michael Hillerby, the Nevada team began meeting with lawmakers. The meetings served several purposes: educating legislators about the pact, identifying potential sponsors of the bill, assessing concerns, and evaluating possible strategies for passing the bill.

After meeting with lawmakers, the Nevada team uncovered common issues of concern among lawmakers. They focused on skepticism about telehealth, compact disciplinary actions, and union apprehension about flooding the job market and making it easier to hire strikebreakers during union strikes. Meetings with lawmakers, along with a change in governor and an inability to find a sponsor for the bill, led the Nevada team to decide not to reintroduce the bill in 2019.

Instead, the team plans to introduce legislation during the next legislative year, which begins in 2021, using the time between now and then to implement a detailed new strategy for engaging stakeholders at the grassroots level. Team members plan to focus on networking and educating as many stakeholders as possible before their next attempt. Learning from its first attempt in 2017, the team is working to listen to stakeholder concerns and educate legislators well in advance of introducing legislation. By engaging with stakeholders more strongly, the team hopes that the combined support of legislators, the NSBN, and nursing stakeholder groups will help make the legislation more successful.


The Colorado team was able to involve many external stakeholders early in the process. However, the team struggled to gain the commitment of legislators.

Part of the Colorado team's strategy for stakeholder engagement was to form three working groups. Each group focused on one of three populations that the Colorado team hoped to address in its reform efforts: the Veterans Occupational Licensing and Credentialing (VOCAL) committee focused on military veterans and families, the Veterans Occupational Licensing and Credentialing (VOCAL) committee ( VOCAL) Immigrants focused on immigrants and the Collateral Committee's Consequences Committee focused on people with criminal records. Throughout Colorado's participation in the consortium, the committees conducted several focus groups with industry members and city councils with state legislators and the public. These committees helped draft potential new rules, policies, laws, and reports related to occupational licensing in Colorado. The committees also hosted webinars and meetings to help educate board members, policymakers and industry stakeholders about the proposed changes.

This effort to engage stakeholders early on helped the Colorado team successfully pass legislation that streamlined part of the cosmetology license application process based on experience gained abroad. This process also helped enact many new rules, create draft policies for people with criminal records, and translate 12 license applications into Spanish. It also led to the research and publication of an immigrant's guide to the licensing process and the creation of numerous rules to streamline the application process for veterans.

However, the Colorado team found it difficult to involve state legislators in their broader goals. The team invited legislators to workshops, meetings and conferences on the topic. However, they often had trouble gaining bipartisan legislative support or finding legislators to champion their cause. This lack of commitment from legislators has created an obstacle to reform beyond enacting rules or publishing board policies and recommended best practices.

Engaging Stakeholders Lessons Learned

The Nevada and Colorado case studies demonstrate the value of involving stakeholders early in the process. They also demonstrate the importance of building legislative relationships through continuing education and networking with state legislators. Through regular meetings, workshops, educational events, assemblies and listening sessions, key stakeholders can be meaningfully involved in the process. This allows for a broader base of support for various proposed changes and reforms.

leadership changes

Many state government stakeholders play critical roles in occupational licensing reform, including state governors and legislators. It is important for leadership at the state level to prioritize occupational licensing for reform to take place, but it is also challenging to implement when there is a change in leadership.

Governors can play a leadership role in occupational licensing reform by issuing executive orders to direct agency action on licensing reforms, providing support and leadership to pass legislation, and appointing representatives to serve on a licensing board. They can also act as public advocates for occupational licensing review and reform, speaking out or supporting the efforts of legislators, interest groups and the general public. One of the best practices learned from the consortium was having a consistent representative of the governor's office on the core team. For example, the director of the Nevada Governor's Office of Workforce Innovation (OWINN) was a member of the core team. OWINN's goal is to foster a qualified workforce in the state, fostering collaboration between entities. When Nevada had a partisan shift for governor in 2018, a new director of OWINN was appointed. But by ensuring that the core team continued to have representation from OWINN, the new director was able to help the team navigate the change in management and keep the work moving forward.

State legislators play an important leadership role in introducing, supporting, and passing occupational licensing legislation. A best practice for navigating the legislative rotation is to stay focused on stakeholder engagement. While state leaders may face change, external stakeholders often serve as a bridge to change. These external stakeholders may include licensing boards, universities, lobbyists, other state agencies, non-profit agencies, and citizens. For example, Colorado has focused on reaching out to immigrants, nonprofit organizations, and other stakeholders to inform and promote their work to reduce the burden for skilled immigrants. The Colorado core team found that engaging multiple stakeholders helped inform and advance policy when legislators were busy in session or facing internal changes. As a result of these strategies, the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies proposed a bill that would allow Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) beneficiaries to receive occupational licenses.

Consortium partners also helped to minimize the effects of change of leadership during the life of the project. As external facilitators, partners were able to give presentations, provide context and resources, and send reminders about planned events to new employees. For example, in Illinois, the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation originally directed the work, but due to a change in administration it was transferred to the Governor's office. Consortium partners were able to work with all parties and help close transfer and information gaps.

sunrise and sunset

Sunrise and sunset measurements were of immediate interest among the states in the consortium. Early reviews, which occur before legislation is enacted, and late reviews, which occur after legislation is passed and implemented, can be powerful tools for policymakers to evaluate occupational licensing measures. Both processes examine existing or proposed costs and benefits of licensing, compare regulation with other states, and provide legislators with data-driven analysis to aid decision-making. A handful of states are well known for using these processes for a variety of purposes to audit state government agencies, programs, and regulations. Some member states started the action planning process in the hope that they could emulate the lessons learned in other states.

As the project progressed, the consortium states' appetite for access to information on these processes and related technical assistance increased. At the 2018 Consortium Meeting in Clearwater, Florida, partners held a sunrise and sunset session on reviews with experts from Colorado, Texas, and Vermont explaining how reviews work in their states. Of the member states of the consortium, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin received specialized technical assistance from partners in this area. Of those states, Arkansas is the only one to date that has successfully incorporated a formal process into its regulatory framework. In 2020, Wisconsin sought to adopt a sunrise process through legislation with partners testifying. However, in the end, this did not happen. It is worth noting that Idaho, a state that joined the consortium in 2018 but was not part of the original cohort, has also successfully formalized the use of these processes as a result of its work with partners.

For these four states, there are some lessons learned to report. Tracking down as much information as possible about these processes, including examples of how they work and don't work in other states, was a critical first step. In Indiana's exploration of the sunrise and sunset processes, the team led programming at its 2019 Health Workforce Summit (in-state meeting). After being introduced to the topic in a previous session titled "Why We Regulate," participants delved into both processes: listening to an expert from Colorado at sunset and an expert from Vermont at sunrise. Attendees were most interested in learning more about how each state was making the process work for them by asking panelists specific questions about implementation, process, structure, and stakeholder buy-in.

Once information became available, it was necessary to secure significant buy-in from various government stakeholders for states to successfully adopt one or both of these processes. Identifying strong champions who believe in the promise of the processes and are willing to carry the message to their peers was equally critical. Strong legislative and executive advocates were needed, as well as a strong proponent from the state's regulatory community willing to discuss the details and recruit colleagues on behalf of implementing the process. Arkansas was able to effectively build coalitions, a strategy that ultimately led to the successful adoption of legislative review at both sunrise and sunset. In keeping with AIR's case study of Arkansas' work in the consortium, the Red Tape Reduction Task Force (RTRWG) and the Occupational Licensing Advisory Group (OLAG) were key coalitions of key stakeholders working in parallel. OLAG was a 25-member group representing various state regulatory boards and departments. He was tasked with researching the state's licensing requirements and collecting data on all licensing entities to create a complete picture of licensing regulations in the state. OLAG data helped inform the RTRWG, which was a governor-appointed stakeholder group tasked with making policy and research recommendations to the legislature.

Early and frequent collaboration between these stakeholders resulted in a common vision and mission that was crucial to OLAG's success. Sunrise and sunset are complex regulatory review processes with many factors to consider.

With so many factors to consider, strong advocates with a united vision are needed for successful implementation. The Arkansas OLAG and the RTRWG worked together to produce a report of recommendations in the fall of 2018. The list of recommendations included that the legislature should consider "establishing systematic initial review processes for the creation of new licensing entities and final review of licensing entities existing licensing".

Arkansas was able to secure strong buy-in from a majority of its legislators and the governor's office, and got many of the state's occupational licensing boards to agree to adopt the processes. By contrast, the Illinois team was only able to secure acceptance of its proposal to adopt a sunrise process from its Department of Financial and Professional Regulation and one party in the state legislature. Ultimately, his proposals failed in the legislature in 2018 and 2019 due to a lack of collaboration between farms and bipartisan stakeholder engagement.

Types of occupations considered

Some state occupational licensing reforms are implemented through broad policy actions. But obstacles such as political challenges, convenience issues, industry-specific factors, state workforce strategies and differences in regulatory frameworks may require states to develop more personalized approaches to license reform.

Many syndicate state action plans have focused on policy changes where they can be most effective, and therefore occupation-specific policy reforms were a common consideration. Of these, state teams generally cited their interest in addressing populations disproportionately affected by occupations, state labor shortages, and the regulatory structure of councils. Some teams also considered these factors together. For example, Maryland targeted in-demand cosmetology, HVAC, and plumbing occupations for board-initiated renovations that involved improving accessible pathways to licensing. Regardless of structure, one lesson from the consortium's work is that states can build political momentum and sometimes be more successful when they adopt tailored and targeted approaches.

status comparisons

It is common for states to consider how their licensing requirements in specific industries compare to other states when considering reform strategies. The resulting data can establish how closely a state aligns with national averages and reveal discrepancies in license fees, training requirements, or other occupation-specific barriers. To address this need for information, the partners created the Occupational Licensing Database to compare licensing requirements in high-growth, high-employment occupations that have lower entry barriers to obtaining an education. Currently, the database consists of 48 occupations, including electricians, massage therapists, beauticians, plumbers, and dental hygienists. This selection also served as a suggestion of occupations for the member states to consider during the development of their action plans.

The database continues to help states compare how similar or different their structures and licensing requirements are regionally and nationally. In addition to more skillfully targeting their overly burdensome regulations, states can improve their understanding of how well their licensing requirements align for reciprocity, including through bilateral reciprocity agreements, interstate covenants, and the effect that "equal" or greater clauses that "may have in the licensing. mobility.

For example, information in the cosmetology database shows that training hour requirements range from 1,000 to 2,100 hours, 33 states do not require continuing education, and license fees range from $18 to $263. database metrics represent a sampling of licensing requirements that a state could investigate further. Examined at a regional level, states can see how overly onerous requirements can put them at a disadvantage when trying to attract workers into certain occupations.

Workforce Strategy Alignment

When state occupational reform efforts are combined with broader workforce strategies, states can prioritize actions that address barriers or overly burdensome licensing regulations that unequally affect certain occupations. For example, the Nevada State team targeted licensing reform for occupations that were included in the Governor's Office of Workforce Innovation report on occupations in demand, as well as the project partners' list of specific occupations (see page F1 ). This included HVAC contractors, plumbers/plumbers/steam fitters, nurses and nursing assistants. In particular, the state team noted the projected shortage of licensed practical nurses and the need for further analysis. That priority was shared by the Indiana State team, who also recognized the shortage of nursing and other health professions in the state. This specific approach helped support the state's effort to adhere to the Enhanced Nursing Licensing Covenant throughout the project.

regulatory structures

States can consider how their regulatory frameworks might challenge or facilitate their ability to implement policy reforms. For example, licensing boards are organized with varying levels of autonomy from a state oversight body. For occupational councils located in more centralized structures within state departments, there may be an opportunity to promote reform based on close organizational relationships and authority assignments. For example, the Maryland project team took this approach with their target occupations, knowing that the associated councils were organized into their Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. While councils were ultimately the decision makers regarding the reform strategies presented by the state team, the regulatory framework facilitated interactions and helped ensure acceptance of some of the measures.

Regulations to serve target populations

One strategy employed by states to mitigate the disproportionate effects that licensing regulations can have on certain population groups is to target certain occupations. For example, some states focused on occupations that most commonly matched the career choices of immigrant populations. The Colorado State team, for example, found that barbershop and cosmetology had one of the highest numbers of foreign applicants among its licensing programs. Therefore, the state team prioritized finding ways to simplify regulations that could address the specific situations of this population group, such as language barriers and the need to recognize experience gained outside the United States.

Regulatory levels

States may also consider whether the form of accreditation assigned to an occupation best addresses risks related to public health and safety. For example, the Utah Legislature passed HB 290 (2020) to reduce regulations for guides and game providers. Specifically, it was determined that there was a more relevant need to identify who these professionals are, rather than requiring more familiar standards for licensing. Therefore, HB 290 required each professional to submit personally identifiable information to the state. This information, in turn, is useful when justifying investigations of adverse practices.

Evaluation of government policies and practices (1)

As mentioned in the previous section Member Resources: Population Report In this report, the use of the specific population lens to examine the occupational license policy helped to bring this project into focus for the consortium states when they were beginning to formulate a action plan. Particularly during the first year of the project, partners often structured meetings, publications and specialized technical assistance in terms of a population group. While several important lessons were learned from each of the unique populations, overall it was determined that a best practice for one population group may be a successful approach for another as well.

Some of the populations ended up getting more attention than others. Veteran and military wives were the most popular of the four populations across the consortium states during the life of the project. Several states began their work by looking at what licensing-related changes they could make to specifically benefit veterans and military spouses. Persons with a criminal record may be considered second, particularly in the second and third years of the project. Permitted-to-work immigrants were popular in about half of the states with the largest immigrant populations, while the long-term unemployed and displaced workers received less attention among the consortium states.

It is also important to recognize that some states have chosen not to structure their work around a specific population. These states often went on to make changes that turned out to be beneficial to one or more population groups, but they did not frame their plan of action in terms of a specific population.

Veterans and military spouses

Of each of the four target populations, veterans and military wives are perhaps the easiest for states to support. Many of the consortium states began their work by securing buy-in from legislators, governor's office officials, and regulators on policies related to veterans and military spouses as a way to introduce licensing reform as a tool to benefit this population. The experiences of the consortium states show that, for military families, policies that address unequal license requirements across states and the lack of license-related mobility are best practices. Meanwhile, for veterans, policies that ensure military experience and education can be considered when applying for leave is a clear best practice.

military spouses

For many states approaching spousal license reform, the typical goal was to improve mobility and get this population into work as quickly as possible. For some states, this meant licensing a military spouse through an expedited process, with a board issuing a permanent license with no further examination to applicants who already held a valid license in good standing in another state. The 2019 Kentucky HB 323 exemplifies this type of approach, requiring state licensing authorities to issue a license to military spouses within 30 days of filing an application, provided certain criteria are met. This legislation builds on Kentucky's 2018 HB 319, which required the same 30-day application processing guarantee, but for active-duty military personnel and their families. Both laws stem directly from Kentucky's participation in the consortium and were identified by the state team and developed as policy during the 2017 and 2018 Multistate Learning Consortium meetings. The Kentucky team was particularly interested in what it could do to improve military marriage state licensing process and, during the 2018 Multistate Consortium Meeting, managed to build the HB 323 thanks to the partner's facilitation.

Some states grant temporary leave to military spouses while they apply for a regular leave in their new state. This can take 90 days or more, depending on the state. Others choose to recognize out-of-state licenses for military spouses, allowing them to practice in-state immediately, bypassing the licensing process as long as certain criteria are met. Undoubtedly, Utah started this trend in 2018 with SB 227, which allows military spouses who move to the state to practice immediately as long as their home state license is valid, current, and they pay the appropriate fees. As in Kentucky, with the help of facilitation partners during the state team's time, the Utah team identified military wives as a population they wanted to help by pursuing policy changes. During the 2018 Multistate Consortium Meeting, the team focused on planning actions for this population group, forming the SB 277 (2018) legislation.

Veterans and service members

States interested in improving their licensing processes and policies to benefit veterans often need to figure out how to translate military education and experience into state-specific licensing requirements. Colorado, for example, passed legislation (prior to the formation of the consortium in 2016) requiring the state's Department of Regulatory Agencies to review all occupations it regulates for possible ways in which military experience could translate into military experience. membership license. The state expanded its efforts by working with the consortium and, with the support of partners, developed a local stakeholder advisory group within the military and veterans community to provide information and expertise. This led the tasked team to compare and match all licensed occupations in the state for military equivalency in order to gather input from experts close to each branch of the military, as well as those who work with veterans.

Another example of a similar approach comes from Delaware, where the legislature passed HB 112 in 2018, allowing licensing boards to recognize military education, training, and experience when reviewing credentials and issuing licenses. During their time on the partner-facilitated state team at the 2017 consortium meeting, the Delaware team identified the need for licensing boards to be able to compare and match applicants' military experience. Through the action planning process, the Delaware team developed a strategy to formalize this recognition, and the legislation was passed in the next legislative session.


The main challenge faced by state consortium teams when considering and designing solutions for military spouses and veterans was the sheer amount of information and the myriad of different stakeholders that needed to be included. Different policies and procedures affecting branches of the military and bases within the same state can make things difficult for policymakers. They have to collect and digest all the information to figure out how to translate military experiences into state licenses or understand how to make the process easier for military spouses. State teams were able to cope with this by developing strong ties with local military bases and organizations that work with veterans and military wives. For example, the Delaware team solicited input from representatives from Dover Air Force Base to develop its 2018 legislation, and Kentucky worked closely with representatives from Fort Knox in developing its 2018 and 2019 legislation. community, the Colorado team worked with representatives from military facilities in the state, as well as numerous local nonprofit organizations that work with military veterans and their families. These direct connections to the military and the people whose lives are most directly affected by the service have benefited the consortium states through increased communication and information sharing.

Individuals with a criminal record

People with criminal records tend to face a range of collateral consequences, which is why there was considerable energy among consortium states to explore licensing solutions for this population. While professional licenses can create obstacles for certain workers, people with a criminal record may face additional challenges in finding and keeping a job, critical to reducing recidivism. The consortium states addressed blanket bans, good moral character clauses, and general cost of leave to help improve employment outcomes for workers with criminal records. The need for intersectoral collaboration in linkages and acceptance by the state government and the prison community are two important lessons from the work of states in partnership with this population. While the consortium states have made significant progress in addressing licensure barriers for this population, it is too early to say how successful their efforts have been in reducing recidivism and improving employment outcomes.

collaboration between branches

Blanket bans are a common policy barrier for people with criminal records that consortium states have worked on. General bans generally prevent anyone with a criminal record from obtaining a license, particularly those with criminal felony convictions. Illinois addressed this issue by passing HB 2670 in 2019. The legislation goes beyond simply removing general prohibition language and requires that mitigating factors associated with a crime not be a barrier to licensing, but provide guidance for considering the license applicant. The key to Illinois's success on this issue was the collaboration that took place between the measure's enthusiastic supporters from both the legislature and the state's Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. Particularly for a state team that faced challenges with some of its other desired reforms, the partnership that developed between the Legislature and the state regulatory agency on this issue was crucial to the passage of HB 19-2670.

Related to the elimination or modification of the so-called general prohibitions in the statutes, the consortium states have also been interested in the practice of pre-qualification to serve this population. Prequalification is when a licensing board lists specific convictions that will disqualify an applicant from being eligible for a license in a particular occupation. Or, in some states, prequalification allows potential applicants to request an eligibility review by the board based on their criminal history before proceeding with the formal application process. Among the states in the consortium, those that managed to secure the participation of regulators in prequalification standards were able to adopt them.

Nevada passed AB 319 on this topic in 2019, authorizing individuals with a criminal record to seek a pre-determination as to whether or not a prior conviction would disqualify them from licensure. Nevada has a decentralized regulatory structure dominated by the board. The lack of connection and communication between regulatory boards is often cited as a possible disadvantage of these decentralized regulatory systems. The Nevada consortium team was able to overcome this challenge by bringing together various licensing boards in the state for regular fact-finding calls to discuss the reform ideas the team had identified. By bringing the State Board of Nursing, Board of Contractors, Board of Cosmetology, Board of Physical Therapy and others to the table, the team was able to bring these different board voices into the conversation and leverage their expertise to craft the prequalification . legislation.

Fixes Community Connections

Of all the states in the consortium, the Delaware team was perhaps the most successful in establishing a close relationship with its prison community. From the beginning, given the expertise of some of its key team members, criminal justice and licensing issues were a top priority for the team. The Delaware team has identified reducing or eliminating unnecessarily burdensome licensing requirements for persons involved in justice as a key goal of their action plan since the first consortium meeting in 2017. One of the team's key accomplishments has been the passage of legislation which reduces the amount of time a person with a criminal conviction would have to wait to be eligible for the license. As of 2018 HB 97, the State Board of Barbering and Cosmetology was able to grant exemptions to applicants with felony convictions who previously would have had to wait two to three years to qualify for a license following a conviction. With the support of partners, Delaware was able to hold statewide meetings and invite members from the Department of Corrections, Department of Safety, Department of Health and Human Services, and others. The team could then present the action plan and solicit expertise and feedback.

Bringing these partners to the table and passing HB 97 set off a chain of events, allowing for an even greater reduction in licensing barriers for this population. In late 2018, following passage of HB 97, Delaware Governor John Carney signed an executive order creating the Delaware Commission on Correctional Reentry and tasking it with overseeing the implementation and creation of correctional initiatives. efficient and effective re-entry. The State Commission on Correctional Reentry worked in partnership with the consortium's core team to continue to advance the team's action plan. Some committee members also served on the core team to ensure cross-group collaboration. Further legislation was introduced in 2019, giving boards that oversee licenses for plumbers, HVACR operators and electricians the same authority to grant exemptions to applicants with criminal convictions. That legislation, HB 124 of 2019, met with some opposition, but with the connections the Delaware team made in the correctional and regulatory communities, it eventually passed.


One of the main challenges when working on licensing issues that directly affect people with criminal records is their employability once licensed. States can take a variety of approaches to make it easier for people with a criminal record to obtain a license. However, once licensed, many states in the consortium, including Colorado, Delaware, Maryland and Nevada, reported that the challenge remains as there is no guarantee that the licensee will find employment. Unfortunately, even as legal and regulatory barriers are reduced, individual employers may still be hesitant to hire someone with a criminal record. Some licensed occupations, particularly those related to professions such as an electrician or plumber, require entry into homes, schools, health centers and other locations. This can make anyone with a criminal record working these jobs controversial for some employers. This concern was outside the scope of the project, but is recognized by the partners as an important issue and a potential area for continued improvement to remove employment barriers for people with criminal backgrounds.

Immigrants with Work Permit

Allowed immigrants to work received a lot of attention, but only from a handful of syndicate states. There are a variety of explanations for this, including the size of a state's foreign population and the political will of policymakers to address licensing issues that affect them. While there are some population-specific best practices in the consortium states for this population, perhaps the most important lessons learned are that communication with potential candidates is critical, and many of the policy solutions to help some of the other populations can be applied to immigrants seeking to obtain a license like Bueno.

Better communication for graduates

Better communication from licensors can improve outcomes for all types of applicants. Consortium states have learned that this is particularly true for immigrants with a work permit. Maryland and Colorado are two examples of states that have sought to improve communication with these candidates. Maryland has sought to improve the accessibility of its licensing exams for non-native English speakers by allowing interpreters and/or translation dictionaries on exams for certain occupations. The Maryland team identified this as a goal for their action plan and managed to complete it through regulatory policy. As a result, cosmetology license applicants can now take licensing exams with an interpreter present to help translate the terms. Candidates for HVACR and plumbing licenses can now also use translation dictionaries on their exams.

The Colorado consortium team identified reducing licensing barriers for immigrants as a top priority during the 2017 Multistate Consortium Meeting. With significant assistance from partners, the team was able to form a community stakeholder committee to provide input on which parts of the licensing process were most difficult for immigrants to navigate and crowdsource ideas on how to address these barriers. Unlike other populations, the policy tools that appeared to be most useful for immigrants included more communication and messaging approaches, rather than major changes in legislation or regulation. The team was able to solicit feedback from this stakeholder group to help drive their reforms in specific ways. One reform that emerged from the committee's comments was a licensing guide for immigrants interested in obtaining a barbershop or cosmetology license. Using the best practice information provided by the project's national experts, the team was able to identify licensing guides as an ideal solution to some of the most common communication issues for immigrants seeking state licenses. The team hopes to build guides for many more occupations in the future.

Borrowing best practices from other populations

The other important takeaway from the experience of partner states working with immigrant populations is that best practices for other populations can often be borrowed to create useful policies for immigrants. One key example comes from the Colorado team's successful passage of HB 1290 beginning in 2019. The legislation allows candidates for licenses in the barbering and/or cosmetology occupations to substitute foreign work experience for required instruction hours. Candidates may substitute work experience gained abroad at the rate of three months for every 100 hours of instruction required. Applicants must still meet hours or other requirements related to protecting public health and safety. The legislation allows immigrants, especially those from countries where records may not be readily available, to present other forms of proof, including a signed and notarized certificate of work experience. In developing this policy, the Colorado consortium team built on what it had already learned about replacing military experience with licensing requirements and was able to successfully implement an impactful solution for the state's immigrant community.


Successful communication between critical stakeholders in the immigrant community and the licensing authorities was one of the challenges faced by the consortium states. There are many local non-profit organizations that help immigrants with job search and placement services, but there is a level of decentralization that makes it difficult to communicate uniformly with all groups.

Additionally, state licensing agencies often overlook common practices that can help reduce information asymmetry in licensing, such as making information readily available on websites. Bringing together a core group of community stakeholders who work with the immigrant population, who could then convey the state licensing agency's message, was an effective approach in both Colorado and Maryland to improve communication between the two parties. These efforts were made possible by the expertise in facilitation and convening provided by the partners. Unfortunately, despite best efforts, it is likely that parts of this population, perhaps those with less access to technology or facing other confusing circumstances, are still not receiving the critical licensing information they need.

Although the consortium states decided to remove licensing barriers for immigrants with a work permit, the immigration status emerged as a challenge for several states. Illinois and Nevada passed laws during their time as fund members that prohibited licensing entities from denying an applicant a license based solely on their immigration status. Illinois law of 2017, SB 3109, prohibits the state's Department of Professional and Financial Regulation from denying a license based solely on a person's citizenship or immigration status. It also allows individuals to provide a tax identification number on an application as an alternative to a social security number. Nevada legislation, AB 275 (2019), is very similar. Arkansas also addressed immigration status in HB 1552 (2019). The legislation is strictly intended to allow the state board of nursing to license national DACA policy recipients. The policy aims to help the state with a shortage of qualified nursing professionals.

Low-income, unemployed and displaced workers

Finally, of the four populations targeted in the consortium's work, states focused less on low-income workers, the long-term unemployed, and the displaced. In working with states, partners often heard that while legislators and regulators would like to pay attention to this population group, they were constrained by their resources and ultimately chose to focus more on the other three groups. This project lasted four years, three of which were during an economic boom in the United States. States that have pursued policy changes for this population have had some success, and states that have not directly targeted this population have addressed some of the problems they faced. For example, improving license portability, whether for another population group or for all license holders, would still affect this population, which could benefit from moving to a region or state with more jobs.

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