Arizona could be first state to recognize out-of-state occupational licenses

Arizona lawmakers are trying to create more incentives for individuals in other states to move to the Grand Canyon State.

House Bill 2569, introduced by Representative Warren Petersen (LD-12), would allow anyone with an out-of-state occupational license or certificate for at least one year to be in good standing in Arizona without taking an exam.

“One of the biggest reasons I ran for office was because I’m worried about how many regulations get piled onto businesses,” Petersen said. “It will be something that definitely brings in more qualified workers into the state of Arizona. It gets people to work quickly instead of waiting what could be years– you’re looking at days, weeks or months.”

As of right now, most licenses are not transferable between states but roughly 30 percent of jobs require a state-issued license to perform.

This requirement places barriers on a number of workers who may want to move states but would need to get a renewed license before getting a new job.

According to a University of Minnesota paper by two labor economists, workers whose jobs require a state-issued license can lose somewhere between $178 million and $711 million they could have earned from moving to another state.

“Based on our results, we estimate that the rise in occupational licensing can explain part of the documented decline in interstate migration and job transitions in the United States,” co-authors Janna E. Johnson and Morris M. Kleiner wrote.

From July 1, 2017, and July 1, 2018, more than 122,000 people moved to Arizona. The state also saw a variety of businesses moving or expanding operations in the state last year because of the state’s business-friendly climate.

According to the Office of the Governor, universal licensing is the next step towards ensuring opportunity for all in Arizona.

“100,000 people will move here this year. There’s a job available for every one of them. Lots are them are trained and certified in other states,” Governor Doug Ducey (R-AZ) said in his State of the State. “Standing in their way of earning a living in Arizona [is] our own licensing boards and the cronies who tell them ‘You can’t work here…’ Let’s stop this foolishness. Workers don’t lose their skills simply because they move to Arizona.”

H.B. 2569 would expand a 2011 law that allowed military spouses to more easily receive an Arizona occupational license or certificate if they demonstrated expertise in that profession in another state.

“For military spouses, moving every few years brings all sorts of challenges, but one of the biggest comes on the career front…and the problem is especially great for those who work in fields that require professional licensing,” Amy Bushatz, Army spouse and executive editor for, said. “Every state has some kind of agreement in place to make it easier, but they vary widely by location…Universal licensing solves that problem. For military spouses, it means one less thing to worry about – and that’s a big deal.”

On Feb. 11, H.B. 2569 narrowly passed the House Regulatory Affairs committee by 4-3. Representatives Amish Shah (D-24), Raquel Terán (D-30) and Pamela Powers Hannley (D-9) voted against the bill because of its broadness.

“H.B. 2569 is overly broad because it expands licensing reciprocity to anyone who establishes residency in the state – even if they just moved here and even if they have been certified in another state for as little as one year,” Powers Hannley said. “Arizona has workforce shortages in some professions – like doctors, nurses, and teachers. We don’t have shortages across all professions. I believe that we shouldn’t dumb down our standards in the name of deregulation. We should be judicious and strategic with any workforce incentives.”

To help prevent unqualified workers from getting positions those moving to Arizona must have an up-to-date license and have been working for at least one year in the state they are moving from.

Just because you move from one state to another, the invisible border does not invalidate your experience, it does not invalidate your education, your knowledge, and your skill. You still have all of those things. We shouldn’t require you to start all over,” Petersen said.

Next, the bill will be heard on the House floor and if passed it will move to the Senate.

Emily Richardson

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