FILE - Psychologist

(The Center Square) – The state Board of Psychologist Examiners dropped a dispute over Arizona’s universal licensing law enacted last year. 

The board changed course Friday, allowing several psychologists to practice their profession in the state that had previously been denied permission to work. 

Arizona was the first state to begin recognizing other states’ occupational licenses as long as they met certain criteria.

At issue was the time that the applicants had resided in the state. The board argued that Dr. Carol Gandolfo, an Arizona resident who has been licensed in California for over 20 years, wasn’t a “new” resident, thus disqualifying her and four others.

The board also argued Gandalfo had received her education at a state-accredited school, rather than a regionally accredited school. 

Gandolfo, with representation from the free-market litigation firm Goldwater Institute, appealed the ruling. 

“The Board’s decision is good news for Arizonans, especially as more and more people suffer from mental health issues, alcohol abuse, and domestic instabilities as a result of the coronavirus outbreak and its aftermath,” said Jon Riches, Goldwater’s director of national litigation. “Indeed, the Board should look very carefully at unreasonable barriers for mental health professionals to practice in this state.” 

The board began universal recognition, also known as reciprocity, last August to comply with Gov. Doug Ducey’s initiative to recognize occupational licenses from other states. 

Supporters of reciprocity praised the reversal. 

“I’m glad the board realized it was in error,” said Shosana Weisman, fellow at the R Street Institute, a free-market think tank. “The statute is clear that it refers to ‘a person who establishes residence’ in Arizona. Sometimes, mistakes like these occur in earnest. Other times, boards take issue with various occupational licensing reforms. In either case, it’s good that the Goldwater Institute stepped in to make things right.” 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 43 million people in the United States held a professional certification or license in 2018, a trend that has increased substantially in the past five decades. States often suspend professional licenses for the worker being behind on child support or payment of state income taxes. Arizona-based psychologists are most commonly stripped of their licenses for “unprofessional conduct.”

Staff Reporter

Cole Lauterbach reports on Illinois and Arizona government and statewide issues for The Center Square. He has produced radio shows for stations in Central Illinois and created award-winning programs for Comcast SportsNet Chicago.