FILE - OH Kristina Roegner 11-19-2019

Ohio state Sen. Kristina Roegner (center) speaks during a news conference Nov. 19, 2019.

Legislators in the Ohio Senate and the Ohio House of Representatives have introduced identical bills that would make occupational licenses issued in any state valid in Ohio.

A license holder would still be required to meet the state’s requirements for license renewal and continued education if they stay in Ohio, which may be stricter than other states.

“As long as you have a license in good standing from another state, you should be able to practice your profession here in Ohio,” Rep. Jena Powell, R-Arcanum, said in a news conference. Powell is one of the sponsors for the House’s version of the bill.

Ohio currently has reciprocity agreements with some states, which means that a person’s license granted in that state will be valid in Ohio, but people moving from other states might have to meet stricter requirements to continue their profession. As of 50 years ago, only about 5 percent of jobs in the country required an occupational license, but that number has risen to about 25 percent. In Ohio, about 18 percent of jobs require a license.

“This means paying money and losing hours, which also means money,” Powell said. “This happens far too often in our state.”

Powell said that Ohio should signal that it is “open for business” and that it will welcome newcomers. She said that this will uniquely benefit her district because it borders Indiana. If a person has a license in Indiana, but wants to move to Ohio, she said that cutting red tape would encourage them to do so, which would boost growth and jobs.

Sen. Kristina Roegner, R-Hudson, who is co-sponsoring the Senate’s version of the bill, said the lack of reciprocity could give a potential worker a lot of hoops to jump through.

“In many places, before one can become an embalmer or a manicurist or even a hearing aid dealer, you have to first jump through a set of hoops, and these hoops are not only time consuming, but they are expensive," she said. "From training and classes and exams and all of the fees you have to pay and most of these of course are set at the state level.”

Roegner said licenses are often designed with the intention of protecting consumers, but it can lead to less economic mobility and more economic inequality. Many industries push for heavier regulations to create a barrier for people entering into competition with the established providers, which equates to “economic protectionism,” she said.

Greg Lawson, a research fellow at the free-market Buckeye Institute, told The Center Square via email that universal reciprocity for occupational licenses would help attract jobs to Ohio. He said that many license requirements are not needed for consumer safety, anyway, but rather serve to protect existing companies.

“Aside from a handful of professions where public safety is truly at risk, most licenses revolve around protecting consumers in the marketplace and there are many ways to provide that protection besides always going to licensure,” Lawson said.

Arizona was the first state to pass universal reciprocity for occupational licenses. In the news conference, the president and CEO of the Arizona-based Goldwater Institute, Victor Riches, said that the legislation helped with economic development.

"In Arizona, we recognized that occupational licensing reciprocity was a critical economic development tool that would not only attract businesses but would remove needless bureaucratic burdens from the shoulders of Arizonans," Riches said. "With the leadership that The Buckeye Institute has shown on occupational licensing reform, it is no surprise that Ohio is looking to join Arizona as a national leader in adopting full license reciprocity."

Senate President Larry Obhof, R-Medinia, has also endorsed the legislation.

Staff Reporter

Tyler Arnold reports on Virginia and Ohio for The Center Square. He previously worked for the Cause of Action Institute and has been published in Business Insider, USA TODAY College, National Review Online and the Washington Free Beacon.