If people want to work, let’s let them work!

The Governor’s Office and the Arizona Commerce Authority announced this week that over 165,000 jobs are expected to be created in the state by 2020, a growth rate of 2.7 percent.

This level of economic growth isn’t by accident. Gov. Doug Ducey and the state Legislature have made clear to the world that Arizona’s tax, regulatory, legal, labor, and education environments are intentionally designed to be welcoming to job creation and economic expansion.

As a result of the policy decisions made by Arizona leaders, the state is the fourth-fastest growing in the country, and Maricopa County is the nation’s fastest-growing county.

With this latest news comes a good problem to have: the need to ensure that Arizona has the workforce to fill all those new jobs.

Individuals with skills are highly sought after in this economy, especially with more jobs available than people to fill them.

If skilled individuals possessing industry licenses in other states want to move to Arizona to ply their trade, shouldn’t we make it as easy as possible for them to do so?

It’s not a rhetorical question. Too many states around the country have turned their occupational licensing rules and regulations into barriers to employment, which turns certain industries into private clubs.

Arizona has room to improve in this space. The Institute for Justice has identified Arizona’s occupational licensing laws as some of the country’s most burdensome.

Enter Gov. Ducey and state Rep. Warren Petersen.

In his State of the State address last month, Gov. Ducey said of the 100,000 people who will move to Arizona this year, “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.’”

So, Rep. Petersen has introduced H.B. 2569, a bill to tear down many of the regulatory roadblocks to new Arizonans who are ready to get to work in their particular field. As Rep. Petersen told the House Regulatory Affairs Committee, the goal of his bill is to get licensed professionals back to work as soon as possible.

Arizona already implemented many of these reforms in 2011 for spouses of members of the military, whose moves to Arizona weren’t necessarily by choice, but because of Uncle Sam’s orders. Under the new bill, professionals from other states who have held their license for at least a year and are in good standing in all the states they’re licensed in can practice in Arizona under the oversight of the corresponding Arizona regulatory agency.

It’s an effort that has caught the eye of national commentators. The Wall Street Journal in a recent editorial applauded Arizona policymakers’ licensure reform efforts. “By taking on the licensing cartels, they’re welcoming workers with open arms unlike, well, progressives in New York.”

At the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, we’re devoting a lot of energy to enhancing the state’s workforce development strategy, whether it’s by supporting policies that ensure more students graduate from high school with credentials in in-demand fields, bolstering job training programs, or by making sure that a postsecondary education remains within financial reach of Arizona high-school graduates.

But there are thousands of skilled Arizonans ready to go to work now. As Gov. Ducey said, “If people want to work, let’s let them work!”

Glenn Hamer is the president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Glenn Hamer

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