A new report from the Federal Trade Commission makes a number of proposals that states can adopt to improve interstate mobility for workers in licensed professions.
The Report released today builds on a roundtable held by the Task Force last year that examined ways to mitigate the negative effects of state-based occupational licensing requirements. The Report looks at interstate compacts and model laws that states can use to improve the portability of occupational licenses. It examines procedures that might be adopted to facilitate multistate practice by those who already hold a valid license in one state. It also considers specific initiatives to reduce the burden of state relicensing on military spouses.
The FTC report focuses on three main ways states can improve mobility between states within licensed professions: state compacts, mutual recognition, and expedited licensing.
Compacts are agreements among states to recognize licenses from other states in the compact. Legally, they’re somewhat tricky because the language of the compact must be verbatim among adopting states. Even so, there are currently six such compacts adopted by various states across the U.S. These include the Nurse Licensure Compact, the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact, and the National (Pari-Mutuel Horse) Racing Compact.
Mutual recognition (also called reciprocal licencing) through model laws, though similar to compacts, is more legally flexible. Often proposed by groups representing licensed practitioners, model legislation is designed to encourage the harmonization of state laws across the country with respect to professional regulation. Though model laws need not include specific provisions with respect to license portability, model laws proposed by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants included such provisions and was adopted by all 50 states and Washington, D.C.
Expedited licensing is self-explanatory. For professionals who are already licensed in another jurisdiction, or highly mobile professionals such as military spouses, states could create a more streamlined licensing process with reduced training requirements or fees. Several states have either proposed or enacted laws to waive fees for low-income residents and military spouses.
Without making a direct assault on occupational licensing in theory or in practice, the FTC’s report is a helpful guide for states looking to liberalize their licensing requirements.