By Lindsay Atkinson | Policy Research Intern
In May 2017, Brad Little, acting as governor in the absence of Butch Otter, issued Executive Order No. 2017-06, which called for a review of occupational licensing requirements. The reason for this review: it had been decades since the last comprehensive internal review of licensing requirements by the executive branch in Idaho.
Little’s order required all licensing authorities in Idaho to submit a report to the governor’s office by July 1, 2018. In the reports, licensing authorities were to summarize their licensing requirements as well as justify them.
Now that the deadline has passed, the Occupational Licensing and Certification Laws Committee has set August 7, 2018, as its day to meet and review the reports. IFF has reviewed the numerous reports that are accessible online and, below, we outline next-step suggestions for the occupational licensure reviews.
- Cost per licensee. The submitted reports state costs-per-licensee ranging from tens of dollars to several hundred dollars. This is a wide range. For example, the cost per licensee for a cosmetology license is $29.41 compared to $558.88 for a midwifery license. This disparity shows that more research needs to be done to understand the wide cost differences between licenses. Action: This cost analysis could be one item on the upcoming committee agenda.
- Time period from application submission to issuance of license. Most board reports cite short time periods between application submission and issuance of a license, with some claiming same-day issuance. In many cases, this measurement can indicate board efficiency. Yet, the selection of the time period of application to issuance is not as meaningful as a look into the length of time needed to complete license requirements, like educational courses or programs, apprenticeships, examinations, and an application, before being issued a license. This would give an insight into how burdensome requirements may be for Idahoans. Action: The best course of action is to have some board representatives speak to the Committee regarding the average length of time to fulfill all requirements for their licenses.
- Index of statute, rule, and policy requirements for licensure and renewal. This section is a long overdue review of the process to obtain a license. Before the issuance of the current reports, the statutes, rules, and requirements for each license were scattered among various websites and web pages. It was a difficult process to learn all the requirements and steps for licensure and, with the online publishing of these reports, that task is much simpler. Action: In order to help conglomerate these resources, it would be useful for the Committee to have all licensing authorities post access to their reports on their websites.
- Applications and renewals denied, and disciplinary action. Each board report offers a variety of reasons for refusing or revoking a license, or pursuing disciplinary action. These reasons include the practice of the occupation while one’s license is expired, failing to comply with continuing education requirements, and failure to disclose a felony at the time of original application or renewal. In reviewing this section of the reports, IFF found little justification for why many of the disciplinary actions are needed for public safety. For example, does a conviction for arson when one was a young adult really need to prevent a middle-aged, rehabilitated applicant from practicing denturitry? Action: The Committee should call for outside review of what constitutes a denial,
- Changes or attempted changes to eliminate barriers to entry. This section of the reports provides an opportunity for agencies to reflect on changes such as fee reductions or lifting of restrictions, like allowing family members to cut each others’ hair without compensation and without needing a license. This section is a great review of steps taken to remove or lower barriers as well as ideas not implemented. Action: This could be used as a guide for current legislators on what burdens have been taken down in recent years, and may provide insight into the elimination of barriers for one license that have not yet been implemented for another.
- Assessment of public interest. The main reason behind Idaho occupational licenses is to help ensure public safety. In Idaho, this extends from making sure those who handle highly flammable, carcinogenic liquefied petroleum gas are properly educated on handling it, to making sure that massage therapists are trained in ethics. The way the state “makes sure” is through licensing. Taking the public’s safety into account is important when developing licensing requirements. However, boards have a vested interest in such assessments, to ensure their existence. What board is going to admit that it is not needed? Action: An outside review is needed to establish an objective view on how Idaho licenses are preserving the public safety.
- Recommendations. A great aspect of these reports is that the boards are encouraged to self-reflect. How could they be better? If a board truly wants to fulfill its objective then it should be able to look at policy and public demand and change its licensure requirements to what is needed for Idaho business to thrive. Action: The recommendations made by the licensing authorities may also provide guidance to legislators during their review.
The licensing authorities’ reports are useful. They provide foundational information and give direction for potential occupational licensure reform in Idaho. That said, the above suggested next-steps would better inform the Occupational Licensing and Certification Laws Committee about how to fill its agenda when it meets in early August.