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Governor extends study of state's licensing policies

Ideas sought for 2021 legislative session by Michael R. Wickline | February 15, 2020 at 2:50 a.m.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson is shown in this file photo.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson has created a new working group to continue the study of the state's occupational licensing rules and regulations that began with a group he appointed two years ago, the governor announced Friday.

The Occupational Licensure Reform Sustainability Group will continue the work of the Red Tape Reduction Working Group to recommend ways to streamline the state's licensing and certification process without compromising public safety, the governor's office said in a news release.

The new group also will consider reciprocal licensing agreements to allow Arkansas to recognize licenses and certificates of tradesman who move to the state and recommend other changes to be considered during the 2021 regular session, according to the governor's office.

Critics say some licensing requirements are overburdensome, protect incumbents and drive up the cost of services.

Hutchinson said the Legislature passed 45 bills that affect licensure during the 2019 regular session, and "I want to capitalize on that momentum and find more ways to improve the licensing process, especially for members of the military and low-income or dislocated workers."

Under Act 600 of 2019, a Legislative Council subcommittee has started the first phase of a six-year plan to review 307 occupational licenses issued by state entities

Sen. John Cooper, R-Jonesboro, and Rep. Bruce Cozart, R-Hot Springs -- who served as co-chairs of the Red Tape Reduction Working Group -- will be co-chairs of the Occupational Licensure Reform Sustainability Group, according to the governor's office. The new group also will include Sens. Ricky Hill, R-Cabot, and Keith Ingram, D-West Memphis, and Reps. Michelle Gray, R-Melbourne, and Roger Lynch, R-Lonoke, as well as six state officials and consumer representative Gary Isom.

The new body will work with the Occupational Licensure Advisory Group, which includes representatives from state licensing boards and other groups including the Arkansas Veterans Coalition and the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce, according to the governor's office.

In a November 2017 report, the Arlington, Va.-based Institute for Justice concluded that Arkansas ranked as "the third most broadly and onerously licensed" state in the nation because it licenses so many lower-income occupations.

Metro on 02/15/2020

Print Headline: Governor extends study of state's licensing policies

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