PHOENIX -- Arizona wants to make it easier for workers who need an occupational license for their jobs.
A bill making its way through the state legislature would allow out-of-staters moving to Arizona to do their job with the occupational license they received from another state. Right now, Arizona has some of the most stringent laws that require workers to go through the state’s rigorous licensing standards before being allowed to work.
The law would impact jobs that require a license from the state -- barbers, realtors, nurses, bus drivers, respiratory therapists, security guards, teacher assistants and even to repair doors.The bill could set the tone for the rest of the nation when it comes to loosening occupational licensing requirements.
“This is actually a first of its kind bill and I think it's one that's going to set the trend for a lot of other states,” Steve Slivinski, Arizona State University Center of Economic Liberty senior research fellow, said. “It's going to make Arizona a lot more competitive for people moving to the state…a lot of the licensing burdens we see nowadays are really excessive. It’s overregulation.”
Realtor and State Rep. Warren Petersen sponsors the bill and said the goal is to offer universal occupational licensing recognition to anyone in the country who moves to Arizona, which Petersen said would make Arizona the first state in the country to allow that—and wants to let out-of-staters know “Arizona is open for business.”
“Those people have already gone through the same process, there’s a lot of parody in this bill because this bill looks at those other states and says did you get licensed in your state?” Petersen said. “Were you educated? Were you doing a similar profession? So, the reality is, it’s not asking to…give them the upper-hand, it’s saying we’re going to put you on the same level as us. You’ve gone through what we’ve gone through so you shouldn’t have to start all over.”
Even though Petersen is a realtor, the Arizona Association of Realtors is strongly against the bill, with concerns over out-of-state realtors coming in without the proper educational background that could put the public and homeowners at risk. In Arizona, to be a realtor you have to go through 90 hours of license education and six hours of contract writing, along with paying licensing fees.
Nicole Laslavic is the Arizona Association of Realtors vice president of government affairs and said the organization knows what works best for the industry in Arizona, having a “very specific, unique set of circumstances.” Laslavic said the statutes in place to be a licensed real estate agent are “sufficient.”
“By having people come into the industry and not necessarily have the education or the background, it really could potentially create some situations where people are financially harmed…We do not believe that there's too much regulations,” Laslavic said. "What we do believe is that when we are establishing regulation and government oversight that it needs to be done in a thoughtful manner where, ultimately, what we pass at the legislature and what’s signed at the governor’s office protects the public. ”
Certain occupational licensing professions are supporting the bill, like the Arizona Nurses Association, the Home Builders Association of Central Arizona, and local Arizona chambers of commerce.
When it comes to those professions, including barbering, Petersen argues you don’t lose that skill simply by packing up and moving to another state.
“They would need to show us how somebody's hair in Arizona is vastly different than somebodies hair in another state,” Petersen said. “I’ve lived in multiple states and my hair stayed the same in every state that I moved to…That’s exactly what this bill does, it recognizes that your skills, your talent, your education, your experience, it doesn't dissolve just because you crossed the border into the state of Arizona.”
But, Junior Torres, who owns a barber shop in Phoenix, is concerned about people moving from another state and start working at a barbershop “just like that” without having to go through the same Arizona process he and other barbers did to get their licenses, including paying fees.
“I don't think it's right,” Torres said. “I think everybody should pay. (You’re) trying to work under a license or you having any kind of license, go to the state board. Put your information down, put your name down let the state know that you’re licensed through this state, not just anywhere.”
Torres said there’s been a lot of barbers who’ve come looking for work who’ve had licenses from other states but he can’t honor those because this is his livelihood and he doesn’t want to put people at risk. But, if this bill becomes law, that would change.
“That’s like having somebody out in the street not having a license, they can just have a fake license or something and you just don’t know, I wouldn’t want that, I would want somebody being licensed to come up in here and show proof that they’re with the state,” Torres said. “That’s how its been for years, so why change it?”
Petersen said America has been a “beacon and example of freedom and entrepreneurship to the rest of the world and that's something that we need to preserve and maintain.”
“As we allow these excessive regulations and occupational licensees to proliferate, it's really stifling motivation for people to work, it's stifling entry into the economy, and it's really a downward pressure on productivity and people accomplishing things and promoting to the economy and to society,” Petersen said.
The occupational licensing bill is now up for a final vote in the Senate.
Arizona governor Doug Ducey is a strong advocate of the bill, even mentioning it in this year's State of the State. He plans on signing it, if it’s passed.
“100,000 people will move here this year,” Ducey said. “There’s a job available for every one of them. Lots of them are trained and certified in other states. Standing in their way of earning a living in Arizona, our own licensing boards, and their cronies who tell them -- 'you can’t work here. You haven’t paid the piper.' Let’s stop this foolishness. Pass Warren Petersen’s bill to grant universal recognition for all occupational licenses -- and let them work.”