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Minutes for SB366 - Committee on Commerce

Short Title

Expanding the expedited occupational licensure provisions for military servicemembers and spouses to all license applicants.

Minutes Content for Mon, Feb 17, 2020

Chairperson Lynn opened the hearing on SB 366 and requested Assistant Revisor Charles Reimer to provide an overview of the bill. 

Senator Holland asked if the bill would impact all the boards listed on page 6.  Mr. Reimer responded affirmatively.

Senator Suellentrop asked if the bill would only apply to those persons moving into Kansas or wanting to become a resident of Kansas.  Mr. Reimer responded the term applicant refers to an individual who has established or intends to establish residency in the state.  There are also provisions of the bill concerning applicants who have either credentials or work experience in another state but do not have a license in Kansas.  Senator Suellentrop noted some states have reciprocity with other states.  

Senator Sykes asked how a determination is made concerning the intent of a person applying for a license in Kansas.   For example, would the applicant need a contract on a house or some other proof of intent to move to Kansas?  Mr. Reimer said proof of intent to become a resident is not spelled out in the bill, but the various boards could establish rules under their regulation authority or the language of the bill could be revised to more specifically define proof of intent.  

Referring to the projected expenses outlined in the fiscal note, Senator Baumgardner asked if there were any projections on what the potential income would be from processing the applications and what potential income taxes might be generated for the state.  Mr. Reimer responded he was not aware of any such projections.   

Chairperson Lynn recognized Representative Christopher Croft who presented testimony in support of the bill.  The bill will remove barriers and allow new residents to work faster, by recognizing occupational licensees from other states with a few requirements, like being in good standing.  It acknowledges that these professionals do not lose their skills and experience when they move to Kansas.  Arizona was the first to enact this legislation and its Board of Licensing has experienced very little increase in new workload as a result of passing the bill.  (Attachment 1)

Concerning the military, Senator Suellentrop asked if there could be occasions where someone moved to a state and did not apply to be a resident.  Representative Croft responded this could occur for someone here on a temporary basis, such as due to a military assignment.  There is no requirement for a military person to change their residency.  Under current law, military spouses do not need to have residency in the state, however, new non-military people coming to the state would need to establish residency. 

Senator Holland thanked Representative Croft for bringing this bill forward.  He asked if Representative Croft had any metrics concerning the timeliness of the response by the different boards in responding to licensure requests.  Representative Croft said he did not have this information, but it had been requested at a House of Representatives Committee meeting.

Chairperson Lynn recognized Andrew Wiens, Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce, who presented testimony in support of the bill.  The Wichita Chamber's legislative agenda survey, sent to members this past fall, showed that 90 percent of respondents "support legislation that directs licensing agencies in the State of Kansas to honor occupational licenses in good standing earned by workers in other states."  (Attachment 2)

The bill requires Kansas licensing agencies to issue occupational licenses if a person has a valid license in another state with substantially similar licensing requirements or if the person has met work or experience requirements if no similar license is issued by the other state.  In circumstances where Kansas standards exceed that of another state, this legislation allows for the individual to be granted a temporary permit while completing the necessary educational requirements of the Kansas license.

Mr. Wiens indicated a need for better awareness of the current policy's benefits to military spouses and servicemembers.  The bill is a tool that can help attract a skilled workforce to Kansas. 

Chairperson Lynn recognized Elizabeth Patton, Americans for Prosperity - Kansas, who presented testimony in support of the bill.  While removing internal government licensing requirements within Kansas would help to reduce the need for formal recognition of external licenses and credentials, this licensing recognition bill would reduce occupational barriers in Kansas and the rest of the country.  With some additional stipulations such as being in good standing, this bill provides a path to license in Kansas to individuals moving here with:

 - A valid government license or certificate from another state with similar scope of practice;

 - Two years of work experience and private sector certification performing an occupation licensed in Kansas if coming from a state that does not license the profession; and

 - Three years of work experience performing an occupation licensed in Kansas if coming from a state that does not license the profession.

Research shows that in more onerously licensed states, entrepreneurship rates are lower among low-income residents and recidivism rates are higher for ex-offenders due to decreased employment opportunities.  In a study following 102 specific low to moderate income occupations across the 50 states, Kansas licenses 35 of those, requiring over 200 calendar days of training on top of fees and other requirements just to obtain permission to work from the Kansas government.  Another recent national study found that governmental licensing barriers annually cost Kansas $197 million in deadweight losses and $3.1 billion in misallocated resources. This reform makes inroads in improving opportunity and economic growth in the state.  (Attachment 3) 

Chairperson Lynn recognized Mark Dugan, Opportunity Solutions Project, who presented testimony in support of the bill.  Streamlining the occupational licensing process will allow qualified professionals to move to Kansas and continue working with minimal delay.  It will make a move to Kansas more realistic for a professional, who may otherwise stay in their current state, or relocate elsewhere.  The bill will provide assistance in filling job openings in Kansas.  (Attachment 4)

Senator Baumgardner expressed her appreciation for Mr. Dugan bringing up the issue of employment of military spouses, which enables them to become an active part of the community.  

Referring to Senator Holland's earlier question about available metrics concerning licensure, Mr. Dugan noted the importance for the Legislature to receive follow-up reporting on utilization and understanding of the new policy in order to evaluate its effectiveness.   

Chairperson Lynn recognized John Jenks, The Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce (KC Chamber), who presented testimony in support of the bill.  The KC Chamber, representing nearly 2,000 businesses (40 percent of which are in Kansas), and its Board of Directors, have identified workforce development as a critical and immediate need to fill the over 73,000 open jobs in the greater Kansas City area with qualified workers.  With over 6,000 residents in Fort Leavenworth and the continued relocation of individuals to Fort Leavenworth yearly, the KC Chamber believes this bill will allow for an increased pool of workers for the Kansas City area and provide families more security as they move.  Making professional licenses reciprocal between states will allow Kansas to remove a needless barrier to workforce preparedness.  (Attachment 5)  

Senator Alley asked what Missouri is doing on this subject.  Mr. Jenks responded a similar bill has passed the Missouri House of Representatives and is on its way to the Senate. 

Chairperson Lynn recognized Eric Stafford, Kansas Chamber of Commerce, who presented testimony in support of the bill.  As the talent war grows more competitive, states must take proactive steps to attract and retain talent in all occupations.  Eliminating the unnecessary barrier of entry into the Kansas workforce through occupational licensing is a step Kansas should adopt, if that individual has skills and training equivalent to Kansas standards and has been employed in their respective occupation in their previous state of residency.  In the 1950's, only 5 percent of U.S. jobs required an occupational license, while 30 percent of jobs require a license today.  The bill expands on current state laws recognizing occupational licenses from other states for military members and spouses.  (Attachment 6)

Senator Olson said he thought the bill makes Kansas a more attractive place to move to. 

Senator Holland asked whether the bill would give people moving into the state an advantage over current Kansas residents applying for licensing for the first time.  Mr. Stafford responded there is nothing in the bill that gives priority to out-of-state applicants moving into the state.   

Chairperson Lynn recognized Mitchell Foley, Transition Services Manager, Fort Riley, who provided testimony in support of the bill.  No written testimony was submitted.      

Written only testimony in support of the bill was provided by:

 - Courtney Eichhorn, Private Citizen  (Attachment 7)

 - Meagan Forbes, Legislative Counsel, Institute for Justice  (Attachment 8)

 - Heather Curry, Director of Strategic Engagement, Goldwater Institute  (Attachment 9)

Chairperson Lynn indicated the hearing on SB 366 would continue February 18, 2020.

The meeting adjourned at 9:27 a.m.  The next meeting is scheduled for February 18, 2020.